Tuesday, February 17, 2004
I got the bill in .pdf at work (and can't post here, but I'm sure a google would turn it up). It's designed to be "the most comprehensive national initiative to address disparities in health care access and quality."
The bill focuses on a few areas: "Improved healthcare data and quality efforts," which seems essentially to be a provision for standardization of data collection and research reporting. Which may or may not be a good thing. Standardization often means details get lost in the mix. This section also calls for "Access and Awareness Grants" for promotion of healthcare access programs. The thing is, THIS IS TOTALLY REDUNDANT to current programs. We already have a thriving system of grants under HCAP ("Healthy Communities Access Program"), which award over 150 grants annually to increase healthcare access for the uninsured....why create a new program and more bureaucracy instead of just expanding current programs? I thought Republicans were into smaller government!
A bit of this bill I would really like if I thought it was going to get implemented as advertised is expansion of the HHS Office of Minority Health. OMH is currently just an ad-hoc subsidiary of ASPE (Office of the Assistant Secretary (HHS) for Planning and Evaluation), and ought to be made into a real thing. But coming from Bill Frist, well....I doubt it.
Another good idea is reauthorization of title VII of the Public Health Service Act, which gives federal support to increase diversity of medical and health professionals serving minority communities...plus giving better access to Higher Education Act funds to historically Black graduate institutions. Sounds good to me...whats a GOoPer doing sponsoring it??
My favorite part of this bill is the increased funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) for research into strategies for decreasing disparities...this agency funds a lot of good work, including my job!!! Also there's funding in this bill for NIH to do similar stuff.
The problem is, this bill just says "we should establish these programs," but says not one word about funding them. *oops.*