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2008 health disparities summit in Annapolis addresses impact on business and economics.

Maryland's Lieutenant Governor, Anthony G. Brown, along with Speaker of the House Michael E. Busch, and two cabinet members spoke at a Maryland summit that focused on how health disparities impact the cost and quality of Health Care.


This Summit represented a giant leap forward as Marylanders representing diverse key groups agreed that health care disparities are not only a moral issue, but also a business issue, demanding incentives, not just moral persuasion. There is a serious economic impact of around $500 million excess costs annually due to hospitalization and lack of preventive care throughout the healthcare system in Maryland. Attendees learned that with the healthcare system in disarray, sustained health disparities are an epidemic. In addition, about half of the public health workforce will retire in the next five years. Resolving this staggering problem will require coalitions of Government, Business, Providers, and Academia.

Held at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis on October 1, the event sponsors included the Maryland General Assembly, the Health and Government Operations Committee Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee, and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's (DHMH) Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD).

Nurses were well represented. The Honorable Delegate Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Registered Nurse and Chair of the Minority Health Disparities Subcommittee, and Dr. Carlessia A. Hussein, RN, DRPH, Director of the DHMH Office of MHHD, led in planning the event. Dr. Marcella Copes, Dean of the Coppin State University Helene Fuld School of Nursing, participated on the afternoon panel of Health Advocates and Providers.

Other Health panel members were Myron L Weisfeldt, MD, Director of the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital and University School of Medicine; Trudy Hall, MD, Maryland State National Medical Association and Monumental City Medical Association; William G. Robertson, President and CEO, Adventist Health Care, Inc.; and Jay Wolvovsky, President and CEO of Baltimore Medical System.

A Panel addressing workforce diversity and major payers included E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, Vice President and Dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine; Michael Christopher Gibbons, MD, MPH, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Stacy Mink, Communications Coordinator for United Healthcare Workers; and Jon P Shematek, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CareFirst.

Morning Panels included representatives of Government and Business. On the Government Panel were Garth N. Graham, MD, MPH, Deputy Associate Secretary for Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; John M. Colmers, Secretary, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMHH)' Thomas E. Perez, Secretary, Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and Robert S. Gold, PhD, DrPH, FASHA, FAAHB, Dean of the School of Public Health a the University of Maryland college Park.

Representing Business were Carmela Coyle, President and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association; Forest Harper, Vice President at Pfizer, Inc.; Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and John R. Miller, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health.

The Summit Moderator was Brian D. Smedley, PhD, Vice President and Director, Health Policy Institute, The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Coppin State University's Academy for Pre-Nursing Success (CAPS), which operates in the Baltimore City public high schools to help students prepare for nursing school, and Coppin's nurse-practitioner run community clinic at the nursing school, were identified as strategies to both increase diversity and decrease disparities.

Action recommendations were led by Claudia R. Baquet, MD, MPH, Associate Dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Carlessia A. Hussein, RN, DrPH of the DHMH MHHD office.

Policy Recommendations included improving the built environment, education and public transportation, promoting understanding of the social determinants of health, and universal health care.

Some present reflected a profound sense of frustration. Hope came in the form of the growing data to support evidence-based action, the recognition that economic policy is health policy, and the growing awareness that "prevention" by investing up front can overcome the current, expensive "damage control" mode that characterizes health in the United States and Maryland today.

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Publication:Maryland Nurse
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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