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National Hispanic Medical Association Conference in NYC Focuses on Increasing the Latino Health Care Workforce
Date:3/17/2009

As a Boon to the Economy, Rx for NY Unemployment

WASHINGTON, March 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As New York's unemployment rate climbs to nearly 8 percent, policymakers are meeting at the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA) conference March 19-22 in New York to discuss how increasing the Latino health care workforce could be key to helping stimulate the nation's economy.

Hispanic doctors and national, state and local decision-makers will meet for the 13th annual conference of NHMA, a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC, that represents Hispanic physicians in the U.S. The conference, "Building a Health Care Workforce for the Hispanic Community," is March 19-22 at New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Amid the worst unemployment in a generation, health care is a hot spot for jobs -- and it will grow hotter, especially as President Barack Obama's stimulus package will pump billions of dollars into the economy," said Dr. Elena Rios, NHMA's president and CEO.

Invited participants and speakers to NHMA's conference include Dr. Garth Graham, deputy assistant secretary, Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, president, New York Academy of Medicine; New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines; George Thibault, president, Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, NY; Dr. Ciro Sumaya, dean, School of Rural Public Health, Texas A&M Health Science Center; Nilsa Gutierrez, chief medical officer, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, NY; Javier Escobar, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ.

In February, employers reduced payrolls by 651,000 jobs. Meanwhile, 26,000 jobs were added nationwide in health care and education. Still, the nation's jobless rate rose to 8.1 percent in February. New York's unemployment rate rose from 7 percent in December to 7.6 percent in January.

New York Congresswoman Nydia M. Velazquez (D), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said, "NHMA pushes the health care industry to reflect the growing influence of Latinos in its workforce and to address the pressing health care needs of our community."

New York is receiving $24.6 billion over two years in federal economic stimulus.

Said New York State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., "New York State is dedicated to eliminating health disparities, as well as building a health care workforce that meets the needs of all New Yorkers."

NHMA supports federal policies to expand the health care workforce -- through the Health Careers Opportunity Program, "Centers of Excellence," for example, to fill shortages.

The Hispanic population wields $1 trillion of buying power. This market is projected to grow by 48 percent in four years. More than 15 percent of U.S. population is Hispanic. The Census Bureau projects 30 percent of Americans will be Hispanic by 2050.

Job training is critical, especially in health information technology as the system moves to electronic medical records.

In addition, NHMA supports investing in prevention, a goal that goes hand-in-hand with Obama's vision. At the White House Forum on Health Reform on March 5, at which NHMA was one of two Hispanic groups there, Obama said it is possible to expand health coverage in the U.S. while bringing soaring medical bills under control.

NHMA will issue a report on the recommendations from its conference.

Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, NHMA is a nonprofit association that represents licensed Hispanic physicians in the U.S. in its mission to improve health care for Hispanics and the underserved. For more information, visit www.nhmamd.org.


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SOURCE National Hispanic Medical Association
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