Massachusetts Health Reform Law Improved Racial and Ethnic Health, Yet Disparities Persist

Research suggests affordable care act will deliver similar results

Released: 29-Oct-2013 10:00 AM EDT
Embargo expired: 5-Nov-2013 12:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: American Public Health Association (APHA)
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Citations American Public Health Association’s 141st Annual Meeting

Newswise — Boston – New research finds improvements in access to care and health outcomes across racial and ethnic groups in Massachusetts since implementation of the state’s health reform law in 2007 yet trends do not indicate progress in reducing disparities in the leading causes of illness and death, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 141st Annual Meeting in Boston.

The Massachusetts-based study found that between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of uninsured black residents dropped from 8 percent to 4 percent and the percentage of uninsured Latino residents dropped from 10 percent to 7 percent. Overall, the study revealed a drop of uninsured residents from 7 percent to 2 percent within the span of the study. In addition, flu vaccinations, cancer screenings, chronic disease prevention and other health improvement efforts were on the rise while tobacco smoking was on the decrease.

“The Affordable Care Act is being implemented around the country and there is a lot of interest in what it will mean for the health of the nation’s residents. We have learned that there is reason to believe that it will improve access to care and improve health outcomes for all of the racial and ethnic populations who are eligible for its benefits,” said John Auerbach, MBA, lead researcher for the study, who helped implement the state’s law.

Despite the trend of access and health improvements, results indicated that gaps in disease prevalence and causes of death between white residents and other populations have not narrowed as of yet.
“Many illnesses and deaths are the result of conditions and behaviors beyond the control of the health care system, such as poverty and racism. However, over time we may see additional improvements in health and gap reduction as a result of access to care,” Auerbach explains.

The study’s analysis is based on data collected from the Massachusetts Division of Health Care Finance and Policy survey, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey and a Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation Survey.

APHA’s 141st Annual Meeting is themed “Think Global Act Local” and will focus on the creative and successful public health efforts from across the globe and discuss how public health workers can adapt these efforts to the communities they serve at home.

Session 4204: Confronting Health Disparities While Reforming Health Care: The Massachusetts Experience
Featured presentation: Combating disparities under health care reform: A state public health department’s experience

Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013: 12:30 p.m. EST

Researcher: John Auerbach, MBA

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