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Support the Health Care Infrastructure and Improve Long-Term Planning

How States Fare Under Obama’s Health Reform Blueprint

This week, President Obama released his blueprint for comprehensive health care legislation.  The plan 's release means Obama can outline the specifics of what he wants to see in a final bill for the first time.  Many political observers see the decision to outline specifics as not only a jump start to move health care reform across the finish line but also as a stamp of approval for the Senate to use a majority vote through the reconciliation process, a strategy which appears to be gaining momentum.

Addressing Health Inequality with the Economic Recovery Package

Stimulus funding, like $2.1 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs, $1.5 billion for health center improvements, and $8.4 billion for public transit, should be implemented with a clear intent of reducing racial and ethnic health disparities and achieving equitable resource distribution across communities. 

Health Care for All: Policy Options for 2009

Download a copy of the report in PDF format here.  View the HTML version of the report here.

OVERVIEW

States need to improve the health care infrastructure's response to the prevalence of health disparities.  As discussed in this section, policy options include: supporting the safety net and community health centers, improving data collection to better identify disparities, and improving long term planning through state offices of health equity and other infrastructure.

Eliminating Health Disparities, Achieving Equity

In 2000, the World Health Organization ranked the US health care system 37th in the world despite spending more than any other country.  In 2007, according to the US Census Bureau, the US ranked 42nd in life expectancy. If you are a person of color, a low-wage worker, non-English speaking, or live in a low-income community, the picture is much worse.  For instance, the life expectancy for African-Americans is 73.3 years, five years shorter than it is for whites.  For African-American men, it is 69.8 years, just above averages in Iran and Syria, but below Nicaragua and Morocco.

Health-Care-for-All On the Installment Plan

Incremental steps to improve the health care system can lay the foundation for comprehensive reform that provides health care for all. Comprehensive reforms enacted in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and San Francisco were, in large part, the result of pragmatic incremental steps those states had already taken. For example, a Families USA report discusses the many reforms Massachusetts put in place over the years that led to its comprehensive 2006 reform. Not every state is as far along in moving comprehensive health care reform, but each state does have numerous options for increasing access to coverage, reducing the growth of health care costs, and improving the quality of care.