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President/CEO of National Hispanic Medical Association Dr. Elena Rios Addresses Health Care and Health Disparities at Republican National Convention

Thursday, September 4, 2008 General News J E 4
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 Dr. Elena Rios, presidentand CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), spoke at theRepublican National Convention in Minneapolis, St. Paul and discussed healthcare and health disparities.

Rios was the only speaker addressing health care issues at the Republicanconvention. She spoke Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time as part of RNC theme of"reform."

Rios was among a prominent roster of government and private-sectorspeakers tonight. The list included Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the RepublicanParty's nominee for vice president, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani,former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee,Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Sen. Norm Coleman (Minn.),former EBay President and CEO Meg Whitman, former Hewlett-Packard Chairman andCEO Carly Fiorina and GOPAC Chairman Michael Steele.

Rios' speech focused on health care as a national issue that "extendsbeyond the individual to virtually every aspect of society - it determines oureconomic productivity; it impacts the ability of children to learn; it evenaffects our military readiness."

According to Rios: "The deck is stacked against some of us. Our nation isbecoming more diverse. By 2042, people of color will be the emerging majority.One out of three Americans will be Hispanic. While this is truly something tocelebrate, it also poses unique challenges when it comes to ensuring a healthypopulation."

For example, twice as many Hispanics have diabetes than non-Hispanicwhites. The incidence of HIV/AIDS among Hispanic women is five times that ofwhites. African Americans face higher rates of mortality for heart disease andcancer.

The problem is compounded by poverty, language and cultural barriers,limited access to health information and the limited number of Hispanicphysicians and nurses in the U.S., said Rios.

"With the right leadership, we can meet this challenge and have universalaccess to health care that is affordable for all Americans," according toRios' speech. "John McCain's focus on prevention will go a long way towardlowering the cost and incidence of chronic diseases."

For example, McCain plans to expand walk-in clinics as alternatives toemergency room care - thus lowering costs and offering more responsive andeffective care, according to her statement.

NHMA, a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC, that represents Hispanicphysicians in the United States, will work with government "to tear downbarriers that create health disparities for millions of minorities," Riossaid.

Rios founded and established NHMA in 1994 to improve health care forHispanics and the underserved in the U.S. To that end, NHMA has worked tocombat obesity, diabetes and cultural competence in health care and improvecare for the uninsured and all Americans. NHMA serves as a resource to theWhite House, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office ofMinority Health and Congress.

"We have the greatest health care system in the world, with the finestdoctors and cutting-edge technology. Yet, some people are falling through thecracks. Costs are rising at an unsustainable rate. And this impacts everyone'sability to secure affordable health insurance," said Rios.

NHMA is working with federal officials to help make government programsmore efficient and health insurance more accessible to more Americans thanever before.

"Whether you live in a barrio or on Main Street, U.S.A., the best of theAmerican health care system should be available to you," Rios said.

Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, NHMA is a nonprofit associationthat represents licensed Hispanic physicians in the U.S. in its mission toimprove health care for Hispanics and the underserved. For more information,visit http://www.nhmamd.org.

SOURCE National Hispanic Medi
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