As part of its guiding mission, the BRITE Center and its researchers and partners ensure that the voices of diverse communities, with an emphasis on California’s communities, play a key role in driving solutions to health disparities through health reform.
Research continues to play a role in shaping policies by assessing the health status of different populations and communities, as well as exploring the factors that affect health — from access to quality and affordable care to the health effects of chronic discrimination. The center’s research on race-based discrimination is leading the way in providing evidence-based data to help change policies that are currently discriminating against certain populations and creating negative health outcomes. In addition, many populations have historically been either left out of data collection or are underrepresented in large surveys. For more than a decade, BRITE Center researchers have designed surveys and outreach projects to capture these populations and broaden the reach of research in general.
As part of the center’s work in health reform, Director Dr. Vickie Mays has consulted with the United States Department of Health and Human Services on its national strategy for reducing HIV/AIDS among racial and ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and women. Additionally, as part of her work with the Institute of Medicine, Dr. Mays has helped to define why a social-determinants framework is vital to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2020 initiative.
Recent Health Reform Legislation
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that was signed into law in 2010 provides a number of policy changes and opportunities to address health disparities. Among other actions, the new law emphasizes and expands prevention; extends the application of existing federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination; strengthens federal data collection on race, ethnicity, and other characteristics; creates the Health Professional Opportunity Grants program to assist needy families; and launches the Community Transformation Grants as part of the newly established Prevention and Public Health Fund. As a longtime leader in health disparities research, BRITE Center data and researchers will continue to play an important role in the law’s implementation.
• Leading Health Indicators for Healthy People 2020 – Letter Report (Institute of Medicine)
• The Effects of Unequal Access to Health Insurance for Same-Sex Couples in California. (pdf) (Health Affairs)
• The Changing Landscape for the Elimination of Racial/Ethnic Health Status Disparities. (pdf) (Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved)
• Health Coverage Gaps Among Low-Income Citizen and Non-Citizen Wage Earners. (pdf) (Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health)
• Health Care for African American and Hispanic women: Report on Perceived Health Status, Access to Care, and Utilization Patterns (pdf) (Minority health in America: Findings and policy implications from the Commonwealth Fund Minority Health Survey)