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Equity And The Affordable Care Act: Why Health Care Insurance Alone Doesn't Remedy Disparities

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Access to health care coverage does not ensure equality of health care, and equitable care doesn't mean treating every patient the same, according to Equity in the Context of Health Reform, a comprehensive, accessible collection of online tools just released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) as the Reform in Action resource package at http://rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2012/10/reform-in-action--equity-in-the-context-of-health-reform.html.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121114/PH12618-INFO )

Provisions in the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) address the goal of reducing disparities in health care among minority populations. Starting in January 2014, all people living at or below 133 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid. Increasing access to health coverage will have a significant effect, as more than half of the 46 million people who are currently uninsured are members of minority populations.

Evidence, however, strongly suggests that access to insurance coverage alone does not remedy those disparities. Two RWJF programs—Aligning Forces for Quality and Finding Answers—offer lessons and resources to help reduce that inequity.

The resources will be of interest to anyone reporting on or working in the field of health equity.

The online bundle of resources includes:

Expert commentary on research about Improving Equity in US Health Care is available from Marshall Chin, the Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago, and director of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change ( www.solvingdisparities.org).

More information on the current state of disparities in U.S. health care, as well as what can be done to eliminate them, can be found at http://rwjf.org/en/research-publications/find-rwjf-research/2012/10/reform-in-action--equity-in-the-context-of-health-reform.html.

Background:

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in 16 targeted communities, as well as reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide tested local models that help propel national reform. Aligning Forces communities have made great strides in publicly reporting disparities in care, standardizing the collection of race, ethnicity and language data in local hospitals and in boosting the capacity of language services in those hospitals.

Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change is a national program focused on discovering and evaluating innovative interventions to move the disparities field beyond the documentation of racial and ethnic differences in health care toward implementing efforts to eliminate these gaps in care. Finding Answers' work includes a six-step process that organizations can use to address disparities, recommendations for the kinds of interventions that work to reduce disparities, and systematic reviews of the disparities-reduction literature.



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