Health Plans Serve Disadvantaged Minorities with Best Practices Aimed at Eliminating Disparities
WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) and its member companies fully support the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health's National Minority Health Month this April and their work to eliminate the differences in the quality of health and health care of minorities compared to the rest of the U.S. Given that racial and ethnic minorities comprise a large proportion of the Medicaid population, the mission of Medicaid health plans meshes well with the aims of this initiative.
Studies have shown that minorities in the U.S. experience worse health outcomes than the average American over the course of their lives. Minorities are more likely to die in infancy and have shorter life spans overall due to the higher prevalence and/or greater severity of numerous diseases and the quality of care they receive for those illnesses. Data from the HHS Office of Minority Health show increased prevalence, greater severity and higher mortality rates for cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity, to name a few, among minorities such as African Americans, American Indian/Alaskan Natives and Mexican Americans. For example, adults who are African American, American Indian/Alaska Native or Mexican American were about twice as likely as non-Hispanic white adults to have been diagnosed with diabetes. Data also show that African American women were 60 percent more likely to be overweight than Non-Hispanic White women and Mexican American children were 40 percent more likely to be obese as Non-Hispanic White Children.
These findings on diabetes and obesity helped shape the theme for National Minority Health Month 2011, "Bring it or Buy it Make Lunch Healthy, Green and Good! In Schools, Even Food Can Teach Us a Lesson" which stresses the importance of nutritious school lunches in preventing childhood obesity. Since there is strong minority participation in the school lunch program, this can go a long way in narrowing the gap in prevalence of obesity in children.
"The importance that Medicaid health plans place on addressing childhood obesity, is evident in the programs that plans manage for their members," said MHPA President and CEO Thomas L. Johnson. "Childhood Obesity: Improving the Monitoring of BMI" by Midwest Health Plan, the Pediatric Obesity Program by UnitedHealthcare Community & State (Tennessee) and the "Healthy You, Healthy Me" Childhood Obesity Program by Amerihealth Mercy Health Plan have all been nominated for the Children's Health Award at the MHPA Center for Best Practices Annual Award Forum in May for their dedication to quality in children's health. "But plans don't stop at childhood obesity when it comes to attending to the needs of minorities," continued Johnson. Several programs in other disease areas that disproportionately affect minorities have been nominated for the Cultural Competency Award at the Forum for their commitment to working effectively across cultures. These practices have elements that are tailored to reach minorities by taking into account cultural and language barriers. "The creation of this award category itself shows that the well-being of minorities is one of the top priorities of Medicaid health plans," said Johnson. "We commend the efforts of the Office of Minority Health and National Minority Health Month. Together we can work to eradicate inequalities in health outcomes and access to care among the underserved."
Medicaid Health Plans of America (MHPA) is the leading trade association solely focused on representing Medicaid health plans. MHPA provides advocacy, research and organized forums that support the development of policy solutions to enhance the delivery of quality health care. For more information, visit Medicaid Health Plans of America at http://www.mhpa.org or email at email@example.com.
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SOURCE Medicaid Health Plans of America