Reducing Disparities on National and State Levels

2010 Institute for Public Health Conference Summary

Keynote speaker Cara James, PhD, director of the Disparities Policy Project at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, addressed the impact of the Affordable Care Act on health disparities. She spoke about ways in which expansion of Medicaid effective in 2014 will allow for increased access to care for low-income individuals; other aspects of the health reform law also will likely impact health disparities. While many efforts are underway we still have “a long way to go to eliminate disparities,” Dr. James said. She stated that the cost of not addressing disparities “is large and about to get worse as the population changes.” Currently people of color make up about one-third of the U.S. population, and by 2045 this will expand to more than half of the population.

Breakout sessions focused on health disparities in Missouri related to tobacco, obesity, teen violence and teen sexuality. Experts from the medical, academic and public policy sectors as well as representatives from community and health organizations talked about state and local strategies. In addition, a poster session provided information about specific programs directed at reducing disparities.