Perspectives on Health Care Disparities

eAlert 97353ff9-2508-43fa-ac5e-2275a3374aa3

<p>Racial and ethnic disparities in health care were the theme of a special issue of a recent issue of the <em>Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law,</em> which includes <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=21866&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D368671%26%23doc368671">four articles</a> supported by The Commonwealth Fund. Rather than simply describing the problem of disparities in health care, the authors attempt to refocus policy discussion on finding solutions, including efforts now under way at the state and local levels.<ul><br><br><li><strong>U.S. Policy on Health Inequities: The Interplay of Politics and Research</strong>. By Vanessa Northington Gamble and Deborah Stone. The authors discuss a number of ways investigators can maximize the impact of their research findings on health care disparities. These include: focusing on intervention strategies; investigating the controllable causes of disparities, such as institutional rules; targeting political actors who have the authority to make changes; and being willing to use moral language to fuel political will.<br><br></li><li><strong>Reframing the Racial Disparities Issue for State Governments</strong>. By Deborah Stone. The most compelling way for policymakers to frame the issue of disparities in health care is in terms of "distributive justice," argues Stone. Although health care is often discussed and provided as a market good, many Americans believe that medical treatment is essential to well-being, rather than an optional consumer good.<br><br></li><li><strong>State Legislative Activities Related to Elimination of Health Disparities</strong>. By Kala Ladenheim and Rachel Groman. In this analysis of what state legislatures are doing to reduce disparities, the authors find that the range of state strategies reflects the differing ways states understand gaps in minority health.<br><br></li><li><strong>Reducing Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: Exploring an Outcome-Oriented Agenda for Research and Policy.</strong> By Brian K. Gibbs, Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson, Matthew D. McHugh, Amal Trivedi, and Deborah Prothrow-Stith. Standard variables are needed to measure the efficacy of disparities reduction initiatives, according to this article. The authors discuss their proposal for creating a "disparity reduction profile" and a "disparity index."</ul><br><br>Visit the <a href="/topics/topics.htm?attrib_id=12026">Underserved Populations</a> section of the Fund's Web site for more resources on efforts to reduce health care disparities.</p>