Expanding the Health Care “Pie” to Improve Minority Health
The Front Lines of Health Reform, Edition II
Search on the words “health disparities” in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and you’ll find 62 references toward the goal of reducing racial and ethnic health disparities in the U.S. The Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) combed through them all to find out which initiatives will help drive systems change at the state and national levels.
The result? The two resources that are linked below for your download. Grouped by topics in the ACA legislation, each matrix details the ACA requirements and opportunities in Connecticut, as well as information on available or already awarded funding.
National Strategies for Advancing Health Equity
Beginning at the national level, we’ll take a look at new tools and opportunities under the ACA to expand the “health equity pie.” To get us started, here are two federal offices that are well positioned to drive change:
- The Office of Minority Health was reauthorized under the ACA. The Office addresses disease prevention, health promotion, risk reduction, healthier lifestyle choices, use of health care services, and barriers to health care for minorities. Congress funded the Office with $153 million over three years under the ACA.
- A re-designated National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities leads scientific research to improve minority health and eliminate health disparities. Congress funded the Institute with $831 million over three years under the ACA.
States to the Feds: Show Me the Money
The ACA authorized federal grants that would fund state efforts designed to tackle racial and ethnic health disparities. However, as of October 1 of this year, only a select few of these grant programs have actually been funded by Congress. Here is a sample of programs that have seen dollars flow into our state:
- Community Transformation grants: These competitive grants, awarded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are intended to reduce chronic disease rates, address health disparities, and support other strategies to improve health. Among their “good ingredients”: creating healthier school environments, building infrastructure for active living and good nutrition, increasing smoking cessation programs and addressing chronic illnesses.
- Important note to Nintendo fans: The feds have decreed that Community Transformation grant funds may not be used to create video games or promote other activities that may lead to higher rates of obesity or inactivity!
- Connecticut’s Department of Public Health has received almost $1 million over two years under this program.
- Grants for pediatric, public health, and general dentistry: The ACA funds grants to institutions with a high rate for placing graduates in practice settings that serve underserved areas or health disparity populations. Of about $16 million awarded nationally, Connecticut organizations received two this summer. One $334,000 grant was awarded to the University of Connecticut Health Center, and another small grant in the amount of $24,000 was awarded to Yale New Haven.