HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). In the Spotlight: Reducing Health Disparities

11/22/2015

The United States health care delivery system encompasses outstanding providers, facilities, and technology. Many Americans enjoy easy access to care. However, not all Americans have full access to high-quality health care.

The National Healthcare Disparities Report (2006 Disparities Report), published annually by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), provides a comprehensive national overview of disparities in health care in America and tracks the Nation’s progress toward the elimination of health care disparities.xvi Measures of health care access are unique to this report and encompass two dimensions of access: facilitators and barriers to care, and health care utilization.

Three key themes are highlighted for those who seek information to improve health care services for all Americans:

  • Disparities remain prevalent;
  • Some disparities are diminishing, while others are increasing; and
  • Opportunities for reducing disparities remain.

HHS is undertaking numerous initiatives aimed at reducing health care disparities and improving overall health care quality. These include, for example:

  • Activities coordinated by OCR, OPHS, and the HHS Disparities Council;
  • AHRQ’s “Asthma Care Quality Improvement: A Resource Guide for State Action”;
  • AHRQ’s “Diabetes Care Quality Improvement: A Resource Guide for State Action,” which provides background information on why States should consider diabetes as a priority for State action, presents analysis of State and national data and measures of diabetes quality and disparities, and gives guidance for developing a State quality improvement plan;
  • AHRQ’s “State snapshots” of data, which are made available to State officials and their public sector and private sector partners to understand health care disparities;
  • AHRQ’s national health plan learning collaborative to reduce disparities and improve diabetes care;
  • CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program;
  • CMS’s Hospital, Nursing Home, Home Health, and End Stage Renal Disease Quality Initiatives;
  • HRSA’s C.W. Bill Young Cell Transplantation Program and National Cord Blood Inventory to increase access to sources of high-quality blood stem cells for transplantation for patients without a suitable related blood stem cell donor;
  • HRSA’s Health Disparities Collaborative Initiative, which seeks to generate and document improved health outcomes for underserved populations;
  • HRSA’s Healthy Start program, which works in 97 communities with high annual rates of infant mortality to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes for mothers and infants from pregnancy to at least 2 years after delivery;
  • HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, aimed at improving care for all mothers and children; and
  • HRSA’s Organ Donation Collaborative, aimed at increasing the number of organ donations and transplants.

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