Network faithful know that we are quite concerned that the focus on racial and ethnic disparities will be lost in the rush to health care reform. Therefore, we were pleased to learn about reports out of Massachusetts that make a strong case that health care reform is successfully reducing racial and ethnic disparities.
The first report comes from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation and makes a bold assessment that racial and ethnic disparities in access to and use of care have largely disappeared since health reform. The authors of the document - Health Reform in Massachusetts: Expanding Access to Health Insurance Coverage - state that, "The charts in this report track the impact of Massachusetts health reform efforts on coverage and access to care, the response to the individual mandate, employer participation in providing coverage to employees, and public opinion. Data come from surveys and analyses by state government agencies including the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector Authority. The slide showing the reduction in disparities is found on page 30 of the pdf file and can be downloaded here.
According to Rob Restuccia, Executive Director of Community Catalyst, "There is a long way to go to eliminate other disparities but it is an important result." In a recent article in the Boston Globe, Restuccia said, " One of the most important lessons we bring to other states when we talk about Massachusetts reform is its impact on racial and ethnic minorities. It is quite remarkable what the reform has done — basically eliminating the disparity in health insurance among blacks and Hispanics. Most of us never thought it was going to happen." Download an excellent piece developed by Community Catalyst on how health exchanges can impact disparities here.