Alright, so if you follow health disparity and Minnesota then you heard, we have one of the worst health disparity for minority communities in the country. Even though Minnesota enjoys being one of the top healthiest states.
Why the dis-connect and why is disparity so high here. Well – many reasons is the short answer.
I think one of the main reasons is the lack of actual reporting by the sleep-by main stream media who seem to neglect reporting on health disparity for many reasons. One of them being they themselves lack reporters of color that could feel and see what communities of color see and feel and would bring it to the front burner.
I also think many of the policy makers, policy advisers and policy aides in this state are almost all non-minority. Such gap is guaranteed to create a gap in health care delivery and health care access.
One more reason could be the actual Medicaid agency Minnesota Department of Human Services has zero (that’s right) zero assistant commissioner of color
, and zero policy advisers of color to the commissioner. Furthermore, health and human services committees in both the house and senate sorely lack faces of color in their legislative aides and committee administrators. I think Abou Amara might be the only CA in the House of Reps in Minn. (how sad and wrong)
In other words, those making, writing, thinking and implementing policies that affect most minority communities rarely reflect such faces. In my humble little opinion – that is guaranteed for a recipe to health disparity and health access gap.
However, there is some good news in this horrible tunnel. Last year – 2013 session the senate and house passed a bill to tackle this. HF310/SF246
– Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council passed and signed by Governor Dayton who also sorely lacks minorities with a backbone to fight for those communities.
This council picked its members and DHS has released a press release on it. Here is the link.
As you notice, it has a very impressive membership including many shakers and movers regarding health issues in the land of 10,000 lakes.
After reading this – I was happy yet confused. Happy because I think many of the members really care and want to change the status quo which sucks – quite frankly. One person that confused me was Rep. Huntley, Current Chair of Health and Human services finance in the house. Why you ask?
Well – I mean unless we are having amnesia here. Rep Huntley pushed and allowed the very bias autism bills that the queen of autism disparity Rep. Norton has introduced for years now. I guess if Huntley really cared about equality – then he should have told Norton to go back to the drawing table every time she brought a disparity creating autism language, right?
Common sense would tell us that – but I am learning that often common sense takes back seat to partisan politics based on mostly arrogance and ignorance in Minnesota. At any rate, it will be interesting to see how Rep Huntley does here and what he recommends because he for now holds the gavel for all health and human services in Minn house of reps.
Some of my fav folks appointed are Rosen, Benson, Mack, Abeler, Sheran, Davis, Samantar, McDonald and Lourey. I am eager to see their recommendations and how they will carry that in their regular life in advocacy and committees. For instance, in Sheran’s and Lourey’s committees – while I don’t read minds – their body language always said “I care and I want to make a difference”. They have one of those very rare genuine characters for a politician. And, of course, I can’t say enough good things about Abeler, Mack, Rosen and Benson. They are always compassionate, fair and straight to the point in everything. Liebling – it is hard to read her. She can chop you to pieces, she can also offer an amendment for autism equality in the last hour. Maybe feisty yet reasonable? time will tell here. If you remember I was protesting her in HHS Policy committee with my little posters, yet I was surprised when she offered the same equal language for the low income MA autism kids in HHS Conference committee.
Finally, I hope these members also think about the fact that MA/Medicaid pays a lot less to providers for services that the same provider can make a lot more if he/she takes private insurance.
In other words, if you are a provider and MA will pay you for xyz medical service $50 and for the same xyz medical service – an insurance company will pay $100. Which patient do you think that provider will take. The one that will enhance their bottom line. This is why many providers limit or don’t take patients with MA who are unfortunately disproportionately minorities. Not really sure how to fix this, but this kind of low MA pay to providers prohibits good medical care to communities of color. I asked this very question at IACC’s CMS rep couple of years ago and she had no answer as well.
Another reason might be the fact that the millions of dollars spend annually to educate about preventive and educational materials for medical care are disproportionately given to non-minority owned agencies who often don’t know how to better out-reach or sub contract to inferior outreach workers.
This council is being coordinated by Antonia Wilcoxon at MN DHS who is probably one of my very few favorite folks there. So, I am optimistically hopeful they will come up with not sugar coded campaign slogans, but hard core and real recommendations that produce reduction in health disparity and promote health equality.
Idil – Somali Autism Mom & Minority Advocate