WASHINGTON, March 22 The following statement by Ralph B. Everett was released today by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies:
"The health care reform legislation passed by the United States House of Representatives yesterday is an historic measure that will move the nation in the direction of eliminating longstanding racial and ethnic disparities. As its provisions take effect, the new law will improve the state of health care for people of color by covering the uninsured and widening coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. In addition, health care providers will now be incentivized to work in medically underserved communities. These and other provisions together will bring significant improvements in health outcomes for people of color, who as a group face greater barriers to high-quality care than the population at large.
"Our research has shown that nearly a third of health costs faced by minority Americans are excess expenses due to inequities in our system, and that they add more than $250 billion a year to the nation's health care costs. Addressing many of the existing inequities, as this new law will do, will save money across the board.
"But we also know that the health care reform bill will not fully eliminate racial and ethnic disparities. And many of the existing inequities in health care outcomes are firmly rooted in social, economic and environmental factors that remain to be dealt with. Research shows that just having health insurance does not guarantee access to high-quality care, nor does it significantly improve health status.
"We view the legislation as an enormous achievement that will benefit this nation for generations to come. The goal of health equity is now the law of the land. And that should be welcomed by all who seek the fulfillment of our nation's most cherished ideals."
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is one of the nation's leading research and public policy institutions and the only one whose work focuses primarily on issues of particular concern to African Americans and other people of color. The Joint Center will mark its 40th Anniversary of service in 2010. To learn more, please visit www.jointcenter.org.
SOURCE Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies