HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010: Satcher Focuses on Racial Disparity
Speaking to the National Medical Association, the nation's largest group of black physicians, at their annual meeting in Las Vegas this week, Surgeon General David Satcher announced that the goals for Healthy People 2010 will focus on eliminating the country's racial disparities in health care and improving the quality of life for seniors, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports. This marks a shift in focus from the Healthy People 2000 campaign, which aims to increase life expectancy and reduce racial disparities in health care. According to a mid-term review in 1998-1999, only 15% of the 2000 goals had been met. Satcher said that while racial disparities in health care have decreased recently, there are still alarming differences, citing statistics that show 50% fewer black people over the age of 65 have received the influenza vaccine compared to their white counterparts. In addition, differences in life expectancy between white and black Americans persist -- the life expectancy for black women is 74 years and black men 67.5 years, compared to 77 years for white people. Healthy People 2010 also will actively seek to reduce the incidence of arthritis, osteoporosis, chronic back pain, diabetes and obesity. In order to attain these goals, Satcher is calling for a system that "help[s] doctors promote healthy choices in diet, lifestyle and sexual activity, possibly by expanding Medicare coverage to include services like talking to patients about quitting smoking." Calling on physicians and public health advocates to "create 'a balanced community health system' that includes universal coverage,'" Satcher concluded, "If all these resources are put in on the front end -- the prevention side of the equation -- the country will save enough on health care expenditures to offer coverage to everyone" (Benjamin, 8/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.