Remember this from the Bush era (circa Feb 2004)?:

The Bush administration says it improperly altered a report documenting large racial and ethnic disparities in health care, but it will soon publish the full, unexpurgated document.

“There was a mistake made,” Tommy G. Thompson, the secretary of health and human services, told Congress last week. “It’s going to be rectified.”

Mr. Thompson said that “some individuals took it upon themselves” to make the report sound more positive than was justified by the data. […]

President Bush’s budget would cut spending for the training of health professionals and would eliminate a $34 million program that recruits blacks and Hispanics for careers as doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

It was so bad that even Dr. Bill Frist, then-Senate Majority Leader and a man known to have done some freelance experimenting on cats while a medical student, raised his voice in opposition, saying: “African-Americans and Native Americans die younger than any other racial or ethnic group…These gaps are unacceptable.”

That was a messed-up era in which facts and science were best known as inconvenient for certain folks, no matter if it was our lives on the line. All that’s different under Barack Obama’s watch. The Obama administration just released a report that gives up all the dope and it ain’t pretty. Despite having one of the most expensive healthcare systems, black folks and minorities generally are getting the shaft. I’ve got some highlights below. 

What you do need to know is that the Obama administration is ready to have some open dialogue about this with us. Kathleen Sebelius and her team at HHS are having health care  reform discussions over at Check out their Forums from around the country and also see the report from your state – it’s actually very cool. It’s a new day, I hope. Especially for all of us who have struggled to make sure our relatives and kids get the healthcare they deserve. Above, you can check out a recent vid from The Brother in Chief on healthcare reform and the White House forums project.


The United States spends more than any other nation in the world on health care – in 2007 we spent $2.2 trillion.1 Despite consistent increases in spending, disparities among demographic groups persist. Low-income Americans and racial and ethnic minorities experience disproportionately higher rates of disease, fewer treatment options, and reduced access to care. With unemployment on the rise, the disparities already apparent among these groups will continue to increase. It is vital that health reform reduces costs to make health care affordable; protects a patient’s choice of doctors, hospitals, and insurance plans; invests in prevention and wellness; and assures quality, affordable health care for all Americans.


Higher Rates of Disease

Racial and ethnic minorities have high rates of debilitating disease such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. One of the most glaring disparities is apparent in the African American community, where 48% of adults suffer from a chronic disease compared to 39% of the general population.2

Obesity is debilitating and is often a catalyst to chronic disease. Seven out of 10 African Americans ages 18 to 64 are obese or overweight, and African Americans are 15% more likely to suffer from obesity than Whites. 3

African Americans are more likely to develop and die from cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.4

African American men are 50% more likely than Whites to have prostate cancer and are more likely than any other racial group to suffer from colorectal cancer.5 Hispanic6 and Vietnamese7 women have disproportionate rates of cervical cancer, which they contract at twice the rate of White women.

Fifteen percent of African Americans, 14% of Hispanics, and 18% of American Indians suffer from adult onset diabetes. American Indians suffer from diabetes at more than twice the rate of the White population, which develops the disease at a rate of only 8%.8

HIV bears witness to the most extreme disparity in chronic disease. African Americans experience new HIV infections at seven times the rate of Whites, and Hispanics experience new HIV infections at two and a half times the rate of Whites 9.

Reduced Access to Care

Access to quality care is vital to overall health and wellness, and health insurance plays a key role. In the United States, racial and ethnic minorities and low-income populations experience serious disparities in rates of insurance and access to health care.10

Health Insurance
More than one in three Hispanics and American Indians – and just under one in five African Americans – are uninsured. In comparison, only about one in eight Whites lacks health insurance.11

Four in 10 low-income Americans do not have health insurance, and half of the nearly 46 million uninsured people in the United States are poor. About one-third of the uninsured have a chronic disease, and they are six times less likely to receive care for a health problem than the insured.12 In contrast, 94% of upper-income Americans have health insurance.13

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