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U.S. Health Secretary Addresses Minority Health Issues

NEW YORK – U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday that she is developing a national plan of action that would focus for the first time on reducing health care disparities between minority and White populations.

 HHS has been writing reports for 25 years documenting the gap in health care services between White and minority communities, but there never has been an action plan to address the gap, she said in an address to the National Action Network convention.

 “I’m here to say that’s going to end this year,” Sebelius said.

 She said one in three U.S. Hispanics and one in five African-Americans do not have health insurance, adding that the National Institutes of Health also is looking into the issue.

 The HHS also would be focusing on disseminating health care information through social networking and addressing childhood obesity, the secretary said.

 Some of the changes the public can expect to see immediately under the new health care law is coverage for children up to age 26 and an end to insurance companies dropping patients in mid-treatment because they have reached their spending cap.

 The convention began Wednesday and runs through Saturday.

 Prominent leaders in civil rights, religion, politics and education are scheduled to discuss issues affecting communities of color. Besides health care, topics include the Black achievement gap and the state of the Black church.

 Among other featured speakers were Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and the presidents of the NAACP and National Urban League.

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