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September 24, 2015 Category: Health Posted by:

Congressional analysis of the state of Black health in the U.S. offers comprehensive legislative and policy solutions to improve health outcomes in communities of color

WASHINGTON – The Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust last week released The 2015 Kelly Report on Health Disparities in America, an official Congressional analysis of the state of African American health in the U.S. that offers a blueprint for reversing negative health trends in communities of color.

The Kelly Report brings together members of Congress, medical professionals and public health thought leaders to examine the root causes and impact of health disparities in America and provide a comprehensive set of legislative and policy recommendations to address them. Compiled by CBC Health Braintrust Chair Dr. Robin Kelly, the report is a call-to-action for Congress to make improving health outcomes in diverse communities a top priority.  The contributors to the report include Congressional Black Caucus Chair G.K. Butterfield, National Urban League President & CEO Marc H. Morial, former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher, and HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health Dr. J. Nadine Gracia.

The Kelly Report outlines the grim state of Black Health in America, with African Americans facing higher rates of mortality than any other racial or ethnic group for eight of the top 10 causes of death. Other startling statistics:

• African American cancer rates are 10 percent higher than white Americans

• Blacks are nearly twice as likely to have diabetes than whites

• African Americans are six times more likely than whites to be victims of homicide

• While Blacks account for just 13 percent of the total U.S. population, they account for nearly half of all new HIV infections

• African Americans make up more than one-third of all U.S. patients receiving dialysis for kidney failure.

“Inequities in health and healthcare in communities of color remain deep and persistent, spanning from cradle to the grave, as evidenced by the higher rates of chronic disease and premature death. Many of the health disparities that exist are shaped by generations of cultural bias, injustice and inequality,” Kelly said. “Despite the gains of the Affordable Care Act, we have much ground to cover in closing the health equity gap.”

To improve Black health outcomes, the Kelly Report proposes a five-point plan to reduce health disparities that focuses on Access, Workforce Diversity, Innovation & Research, Community Engagement and Federal Action on Healthcare. The five-point plan can be viewed at https://cbcbraintrust-kelly.house.gov/media-center/kelly-report.

The full Kelly Report on Health Disparities in America can be viewed at http://robinkelly.house.gov/sites/robinkelly.house.gov/files/2015 percent20Kelly percent20Report.pdf.

“The whole can only ever be as healthy as its parts. For America to achieve true health equity, lawmakers, community leaders and public health stakeholders must come together to promote better health outcomes for diverse communities. Your ethnicity, zip code or bank balance should never determine your health,” Kelly said. “Though there are a number of challenges in addressing health disparities, there are also many opportunities to advance and achieve health equity.  We all have a role to play in creating a healthier America and the Kelly Report is a contribution toward this critical effort.”

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