Impact: Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Newsletter
The theme of this issue is the exciting work going on within Kaiser Permanente and among our partner organizations to promote the closely related goals of diversity, health equity, and the elimination of health and health care disparities – top priority issues for Kaiser Permanente. The cause received high-profile public attention earlier this year with the release of the federal Health and Human Services’ "Action Plan to Reduce Health Disparities."
Many of the goals of the HHS Action Plan depend on expanding access through provisions of the Affordable Care Act. As you know, Kaiser Permanente is preparing to serve the newly insured who will be covered through Medicaid and the health insurance exchanges. Other goals in the HHS Action Plan align closely with other work we're pursuing with our partners right now, including expanding the pipeline of minorities into the health professions; training more people as medical interpreters; and implementing the collection and analysis of data on our members' race, ethnicity, primary language, and other demographic categories.
In commenting on the Action Plan, Garth Graham, MD, who directs the HHS Office of Minority Health, struck a familiar chord in Kaiser Permanente’s own message about “Total Health” and disparities: “Where people live, learn, work and play affects their health as much as their access to health care,” he declared. “We have to confront the social, economic and environmental factors that contribute to health disparities if we are to fulfill the President’s goal of ‘winning the future.’”
That message was repeated more than once at our recent annual National Diversity Conference in San Francisco and at the UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity day-long symposium, “Striving for Health Equity in the Era of Health Care Reform,” in Los Angeles.