Congressional, Medical Leaders Urge Congress to Adopt Novel Strategies for Bringing Access, Improving Health Care to Surging Population


WASHINGTON, D.C.-(HISPANIC PR WIRE)-February 24, 2003–A year-long look at Hispanic health care throughout the United States will culminate with a day-long symposium Thursday, Feb. 27, in Washington, DC, where congressional and health leaders, including Surgeon General Richard Carmona, will hear national health care policy proposals and strategies for improving the health of Hispanics and all Americans.

National health care experts will discuss the crisis affecting the nation’s fastest- growing population, present initiatives based on model programs developed in communities throughout the country, and provide strategies to develop national health care policies for Hispanics.

The symposium, “Lack of Insurance and Quality Care – A Health Care Crisis for Hispanics,” will be 8:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m. February 27 at the Almas Temple Club, 1315 K St. NW, next to the Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The symposium is sponsored by the National Hispanic Medical Association (NHMA); The Commonwealth Fund, a national foundation based in New York that supports independent research on health care and projects that improve health care practice and policy; and Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Health Task Force. Attendees will include about 100 community leaders, health providers, congressional, federal, state and local officials, business leaders and advocates.

“We’ve seen some of the programs that are working in some communities, and we’ve seen the problems arising in areas with emerging Hispanic populations, such as Atlanta and other areas of the South,” said Dr. Elena Rios, NHMA president. “Now we’re taking what we learned to Congress to urge our leaders to support community-based health research and innovative community-based programs so we can expand health care to Hispanics and the uninsured and to increase the quality of care for everyone. If we focus on the health of Hispanics, we know we will improve the health of all Americans.”

In addition to Carmona, speakers include Karen Davis, president of The Commonwealth Fund; Rep. Solis; and Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX).

Additional presentations will include:

–“Innovative Ways to Expand Services to the Uninsured.” Reuben King Shaw, deputy chief operating officer, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Mauricio Leiva, California Department of Health Services, Healthy Families Program; and Jeanne Lambrew, associate professor, George Washington University. Moderator: Dr. Michelle Doty, senior analyst, Health Policy, Research and Evaluation, The Commonwealth Fund.

–“Emerging Hispanic Quality of Care Strategies – Language and Cultural Competence.” Castulo de la Rocha, president, Alta Med Health Services, Los Angeles; Leona Butler, CEO, Santa Clara (CA) Family Health Plan; and Mara Youdelman, staff attorney, National Health Law Program. Moderator: Dr. Anne Beal, senior program officer, Quality of Care for Underserved Populations, The Commonwealth Fund.

The Washington symposium is the last in a series of regional dialogues on public policy and program recommendations to transform and improve Hispanic health care and reach the uninsured. In Los Angeles, experts described California’s innovative programs for the uninsured and offered strategies the nation can follow. In Atlanta, presenters provided strategies to develop targeted health care services in the South, where Hispanics grew by nearly 200% from 1990 to 2000.

“The future health and security of our nation depends on our ability to meet the challenge of cultural, financial, linguistic and other barriers to patients’ access to health care,” said Karen Davis, Commonwealth Fund president. “Expanding health insurance coverage, increasing access to quality health care and improving patient-physician communication are all crucial to addressing the health care needs of Hispanics and all Americans.”

More than 11 million Hispanics are uninsured, up from 7 million in 1990 – twice the rate of the overall population. Lack of insurance limits access to care, including preventive services such as cancer screenings, and places financial burdens on families. Language barriers lead to communication problems between Hispanic patients and physicians, ultimately interfering with the quality of medical encounters.

Established in 1994 in Washington, DC, NHMA represents licensed Hispanic physicians in the United States in its mission to improve health care for Hispanics and the underserved.



Castaneda Global Communications

Carol Castaneda

703-369-0414; cell, 703-863-9960