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National Hispanic Medical Association Urges U.S. to Improve Health Care Access as Doctors Meet March 25-28 in Washington
Date:3/22/2010

WASHINGTON, March 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Hispanic doctors and national and state leaders are meeting in Washington during the National Hispanic Medical Association's (NHMA) conference March 25-28 to discuss disparities in access to health insurance and care for Latinos and how the U.S. needs a health care transformation to improve the lives of Americans today and for generations to come.

Doctors and decision-makers will meet for the 14th annual conference of the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA), a nonprofit group based in Washington, DC, that represents Hispanic physicians in the U.S. The conference, "Health Care Transformation to Expand Prevention and Health Promotion for Hispanic Communities," is March 25-28 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Rd. NW, Washington, DC.

"The health care discussion between Congress and the White House is a phenomenal first step in the right direction," said Dr. Elena Rios, NHMA's president and CEO. "Comprehensive health care reform is a major step in increasing affordable access to health insurance for Hispanics and the working poor and giving people a chance at a better quality of life."

NHMA is having a press conference at 11:15 a.m. Friday, March 26 in Room Wilson C at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to address health disparities in legislation and how health care reform is critical to preventing disease and increasing access to care for millions of Americans. Invited to the press conference are leaders from the White House and HHS, and the presidents of the national health professional associations – such as NMA, AAIP, NCAPIP, HDA and NAHN.

Also speaking at the conference are Dr. Carolyn M. Clancy, Director of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Dr. Janet Collins of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are among the speakers at the opening plenary, "National Vision for Health Care Transformation for Hispanic Communities," at 9:30 a.m. March 26.

Surgeon General Regina Benjamin will be the keynote speaker at the awards dinner at 7:30 p.m. March 27. Also attending is Mary Wakefield, Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration, who'll discuss "Primary Care Workforce and Hispanic Health" at 2 p.m. Friday.

The conference brings together experts from across the nation to share their experience in eliminating health disparities for Hispanics. As the nation's largest subgroup, Hispanics stand to gain the most from comprehensive health care reform. More than 15 percent of U.S. population is Hispanic. The Census Bureau projects 30 percent of Americans will be Hispanic by 2050.

The nation needs change that's inclusive and responsive to our diverse communities, otherwise Hispanics are going to continue to die prematurely because they can't afford to go to a doctor or a clinic.

"If we don't pass health reform now, then we won't have another opportunity for 30 years," said Rios, referring to Medicare, which became law in 1965 and is the largest health care policy change in the nation. "If we don't pass it, the uninsured will increase to 60 million." Of the uninsured, 33% are Hispanics.

NHMA supports the healthy dialogue the nation is having on reform. By 2042, one in four Americans will be Hispanic. Latinos are uninsured at higher rates than any other group.

Health care legislation will allow the next generation of Hispanics to be a healthier workforce. It will increase services and safety nets, including hospitals and clinics. It will increase wellness programs, helping communities transform into healthy environments with disease-preventing amenities such as parks and groceries that offer fruits, vegetables and healthier choices.

In addition, it will allow more Latino families to get health insurance, fund obesity and diabetes prevention programs and improve access to care for the poor.

NHMA supports increasing the number of insured people, affordable health insurance with subsidies and limited premiums to 10% of income, more clinics, DSH and support for safety net hospitals and medical practices, participation of Puerto Rico and immigrants for health exchange, expand Office of Minority Health and establish a National Institute of Minority Health, increase Hispanic physicians, nurses, dentists, and public health workforce and Hispanic leadership in the public health system and increase prevention, tort reform and primary care incentives for doctors, and cultural competence training and language services throughout the health system.

"In the health care debate, we're not going to get everything we have been advocating for. But at least more people will have insurance – and that's a welcome first step," Rios said.


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.

SOURCE National Hispanic Medical Association

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