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Health Insurance Industry Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Health Care Reform in Albuquerque

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 General News J E 4
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Sixth stop on AHIP's listening tour; Reducing health disparities a key topic



ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's Health Insurance Plans' (AHIP) Campaign for an American Solution today hosted a roundtable discussion in Albuquerque at which local government, business, health care and community leaders shared ideas about health care reform and reducing the disparities in care experienced by diverse communities.



"Reducing health care disparities needs to be a part of the health care reform discussion," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP. "In addition to offering reform proposals, health insurance plans are working with all stakeholders to close the gap in the quality of care experienced by culturally diverse populations across the country."



The roundtable discussion, which was held at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, was the sixth stop on the listening tour of AHIP's Campaign for an American Solution, a new national grassroots and educational initiative to build support for workable health care reform based on core principles shared by the American people: coverage, affordability, quality, value, choice and portability.



"The Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce (AHCC), the Association of Commerce and Industry and the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce joined together to advocate a balanced solution to reducing the disparities in health care delivery. We see this event as an opportunity to continue the discussion around health care without endorsing one approach over another. In the end, our goal is to help find a way to reduce the costs for small businesses to provide quality care for all of their employees," said Alex Romero, President and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.



Reducing health care disparities is a top priority in New Mexico, where chronic conditions such as diabetes disproportionately impact the state's Hispanic population. The New Mexico Department of Public Health's 2007 Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities Report Card shows that New Mexico's diabetes mortality rate is higher than that of the United States and that a large percentage of New Mexican minorities have not received recommended vaccinations.



In addition, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 22% of New Mexicans were uninsured in 2006, compared with 16% nationally. Of non-elderly uninsured individuals, 45% were Hispanic, compared to 33% nationally.



By 2050, racial and ethnic minorities will represent 50 percent of the U.S. population. This demographic shift will make it even more important to focus on strategies for delivering high-quality, linguistically and culturally appropriate care. For the past five years, AHIP has led a multi-faceted initiative, Addressing Disparities in Health, which provides technical support for health insurance plans and other health care organizations. The initiative focuses on:



-- the collection of data on race, ethnicity, and primary language;

-- cultural competency training as a foundation to improve care;

-- model designs for quality improvement activities to reduce disparities; and

-- communication approaches that address the cultural diversity of America's growing racial and ethnic population.



To learn more about these efforts visit www.ahip.org/disparities.



Over the past two years, AHIP's Board of Directors has developed a range of comprehensive policy proposals to provide all Americans with greater access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage. These proposals can be viewed at www.AHIPBelieves.com.



About the Campaign for an American Solution

The Campaign for an American Solution is a non-partisan, educational and grassroots initiative of America
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