Pascrell, Booker Introduce Bill to Reduce Health Disparities

PATERSON, N.J. – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (both D-NJ) today announced the introduction of legislation aimed at reducing disparities in healthcare among disadvantaged groups. The Reducing Disparities Using Care Models and Education (ReDUCE) Act orders a study of the reasons for the disparities and which methods are successful at eliminating them. It also directs federal funding towards those strategies.

“Nearly 15 years since the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark series of reports on the pervasiveness of inequities in health care, we have made little progress in making meaningful reductions in health disparities,” said Rep. Pascrell, a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, during a visit to the YMCA of Paterson on Monday. “This bill aims to change that. By identifying which strategies are successful in reducing health disparities and directing federal dollars towards those programs, we can ensure that resources are used on programs that work. I think we can all agree that race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, or geographic location should not determine what type of health care people can access.”

“Despite making significant gains in the access to healthcare and quality of care available to all New Jerseyans, disparities still exists and are greatest amongst ethnic communities,” Sen. Booker said. “In order to tackle this problem, we have to first identify why the problem is occurring. This bill will get us the information we need, allowing us to prioritize federal dollars toward programs that are successfully reducing these disparities, especially in disadvantaged communities.”

Given its diversity, New Jersey is particularly hard-hit by health disparities. A recent report found that in New Jersey, ethnic communities have higher death rates than Whites from every disease or condition examined, including prostate cancer, kidney disease, infant deaths, HIV, diabetes, and breast cancer.

“As an African American male born and raised in Paterson who personally experienced health disparities in my community, I applaud the wisdom, compassion and insight of Senator Booker and Congressman Pascrell in introducing the ReDUCE Act,” said Gerard Gilliam, YMCA of Paterson CEO. “This bill is in line with the vision of the YMCA of Paterson’s Childhood Obesity Initiative to change public policies and practices and improve the health of the community through increased opportunities for healthy eating and physical activities.”

Some of the explanations for health disparities include a lack of cultural competency among health care providers, language barriers, limited experience navigating the health care system, and no care coordination. While much research has been done in this area, there is a lack of clarity on which methods are most successful in actually reducing disparities.

Specifically the ReDUCE Act will:

• Direct the Institute of Medicine to issue a report on the extent of health disparities, identify contributing factors, evaluate existing programs to reduce health disparities, and make recommendations for developing and implementing successful programs.

• Based on the Institute of Medicine recommendations, the Secretary of Health and Human Services will establish a grant program for community organizations to implement programs and strategies to reduce health disparities.

• Additionally, the legislation will direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to establish a pilot program to implement a combined payment and health care delivery model that includes incentives for meeting health disparities targets.

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Posted September 22 2014 at 8:36 PM Permanent Link

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