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Letter from Director Carolyn Clancy on the National Healthcare Disparities Report

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Select for the Summary of the National Healthcare Disparities Report.

February 23, 2004

In July 2003, I sent to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for routine review the National Healthcare Disparities Report. Over the course of the summer and fall, changes, with which I concurred, were made to the report by a broad array of staff, including AHRQ staff. The report was finalized and released to Congress and the public in December 2003. Shortly thereafter, an internal AHRQ draft of the Executive Summary was publicly distributed, causing some to question the changes made prior to the December release.

So, to avoid any further question, at the request of HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson, I am now making available as the final report the July draft as it was sent to HHS for clearance. The data in the report will provide the road map for HHS to evaluate the success of our significant and extensive commitment to reducing disparities in health care.

Under Secretary Thompson's leadership, this Department's record is strong. HHS' National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has provided more than 3.5 million screening tests for breast and cervical cancer to nearly 1.5 million low-income women. The new Medicare law provides over 7.8 million minority Medicare beneficiaries with access to a prescription drug benefit for the first time in the history of the Medicare program. Last September, the Department announced $60.5 million in grants to create eight centers supporting research to understand and reduce differences in health outcomes, access and care. That's just the beginning of a very long list of the HHS initiatives to end health disparities.

As part of the routine review process to ensure the accuracy and clarity of scientific reports, scientists across the Department made extensive technical corrections to the tables that improved their accuracy and eliminated technical errors. The final data tables in the appendices include those technical corrections.

I am encouraged that health care organizations across the Nation already have pledged to use these data to guide their health care improvement efforts. I hope that the important data in this report will continue to be used by policy makers to improve health care for all Americans.

Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Current as of February 2004


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