A meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus resulted in calls for more health-care providers of color, a seamless system of care, cultural and linguistic competence, better health care in the prison system, mental health parity, and expanding the curricula of health professions schools to cover diversity and health disparities.
Rep. Donna M. Christian-Christensen (DVirgin Islands) sponsored the Congressional Black Caucus' (CBC) Spring Health Braintrust in April to spotlight disparities in minority health. APA's William Bailey AIDS Policy congressional Fellow, and Leonard Bates, who is spending this year as the Congresswoman's health advisor, organized the two-day conference.
The first day began with a rally at the Capitol in support of universal health care. U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher issued a call to action. Eight breakout groups on issues such as chronic diseases, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, mental health, environmental justice, strengthening the health-care system, and universal coverage met for four hours to develop recommendations for legislative action.
The day culminated in an awards ceremony honoring the CBC's 10 "health-care heroes," which included Lori Valencia Greene, the APA Public Policy Office's Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer. In presenting the award, Rep. Christian-Christensen said, "Your advocacy has put you on the frontline of those who ensure that services are provided to those in need...while many talk, you have shown through your life's work that you not only talk, but you take action."
On the second day, each group reported its recommendations. APA psychologists on the expert panels included Adrienne Stith, PhD, Institute of Medicine; Gayle Porter, PsyD, American Institutes of Research; Harriet McCombs, PhD, Health Resources and Services Administration; Kim Nickerson, PhD, APA and NIH Advisory Council on the Human Genome; and Ly Nguyen, PhD, Office of Congressman Bobby Scott (DVa.).
APA's Public Policy staff is following up on the recommendations and is working with the CBC in developing legislation.