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Each year, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health uses the month of April to raise awareness about persistent racial disparities that exist in access to health care and health outcomes. This year's theme, Prevention is Power: Taking Action for Health Equity, emphasizes the critical role of prevention in reducing health disparities.   Racial and ethnic disparities in health comprise a broad spectrum of issues and include, among other things, inequality in access to health care providers, poor health care outcomes when services are received, and an underutilization of preventive services.

People interested in the impact on minorities of differences in access to health care services and treatment may wish to view the webpage of the Office of Minority Health (OMH) within the Department of Health and Human Services.  See http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/.  In addition, HHS' action plan to reduce health disparities is available at: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=1&lvlid=46.  Advocates may also wish to view HHS' work in collaborating with other federal agencies in reducing disparities.  See, Federal Collaboration on Health Disparities Research at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/fchdr/

The OMH has developed a "blueprint" for use by health and health care organizations in advancing health equity, health equality, and in reducing disparities in health care access and services.   See "The National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards in Health and Health Care" at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=15.  Known as the "CLAS standards," advocates have a useful guide and measuring tool in evaluating efforts to expand minority access to health care services.

Pursuant to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now covers an expanding array of preventive services that are available with little or no co-insurance requirements.  These services include health screenings, diagnostic tests, vaccines, and an annual wellness visit. Find a full list of free Medicare preventative services here: http://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10110.pdf.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy has written extensively on racial and ethnic health disparities. Read more on our website here: http://cma.benfredaconsulting.com/medicare-info/health-care-disparities/ .  Additional health disparities information and activities to eliminate them is available at: https://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/public-health/eliminating-health-disparities.page.

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