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Home Local Maryland Government Announcement Originally published April 01, 2010

HOW THE NEW HEALTH REFORM LAW WILL IMPROVE ACCESS TO CARE AND HELP ELIMINATE HEALTH DISPARITIES



Office of Minority Health
The new law transfers the Office of Minority Health to the Office of the Secretary of Health and
Human Services, to be headed by the Deputy Secretary for Minority Health. The Office will work
to improve minority health and the quality of health care minorities receive, and eliminate racial
and ethnic disparities. The Deputy Secretary will award grants, contracts, enter into memoranda
of understanding, and agreements with public, nonprofit and private entities to assure improved
health status of racial and ethnic minorities, and develop measures to evaluate the effectiveness
of activities aimed at reducing health disparities and supporting local communities.
Offices of Minority Health are also established in the following agencies within HHS: the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Health Resources and Services Administration;
the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; the Agency for Healthcare
Research and Quality; the Food and Drug Administration; and the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services.
The new law also re-designates the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities
as the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The Institute will have
expanded research endowments.

Language Access
The new law requires plans in state exchanges to provide information in plain language that the
intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand.

National Strategy for Qualify Improvement in Health Care
HHS will establish a national strategy to improve delivery of health care services and patient
health outcomes. Priorities will be placed in improving care for patients with high-cost chronic
diseases; improving research and disseminating best practices to improve patient safety and
reduce medical errors, health care-associated infections, preventable admissions and
readmissions, and reduce health disparities across populations and geographic areas.

Workforce Diversity Grants
The new law expands the allowable uses of nursing diversity grants to include completion of
associate degrees and advanced degrees in nursing.

State Grants to Health Care Providers who Treat Underserved Populations
The new law establishes state grant programs for health care providers who treat a high
percentage of medically underserved or other special populations in the state.

Oral Healthcare Prevention Activities
The new law establishes an Oral Healthcare Prevention Education Campaign. The activities will
be targeted toward specific populations, including children, pregnant women, individuals with
disabilities, and ethnic and racial minorities.

Training in General, Pediatric, and Public Health Dentistry
HHS will make grants available for collaborative projects between departments of primary care
medicine and departments of general, pediatric and public health dentistry. Priority will be made
in awarding grants to those with a record of training individuals from rural or disadvantaged
backgrounds, underrepresented minorities; or applicants that have a high rate for placing
graduates in practice settings that serve health disparity populations; and those who train
providers to care for children, older adults, homeless persons, victims of abuse or trauma,
person with mental health or substance abuse disorders.

Health Professions Training for Diversity
The Department of Health and Human Services will provide scholarships for disadvantaged
students who commit to work in medically underserved areas as primary care providers and
expands loan repayment for individuals who will serve as faculty in eligible institutions. Includes
faculty at schools for physician assistants as eligible for loan repayment.

School-based Health Centers
The new law establishes a $50 million grant program over the next five years for eligible entities
to support the operation of school-based health centers. Preference will be given to centers that
serve a large population of medically underserved children.

Creating Healthier Communities
The new law establishes Community Transformation Grants that would be awarded to state and
local government agencies and community-based organizations for the implementation of
preventive health activities that would address health disparities, reduce chronic disease rates,
and prevent the development of secondary conditions. Grants would be used to develop a
Community Transformation Plan that includes the policy, environmental, programmatic, and
infrastructure changes necessary to promote healthy living and reduce disparities. Activities will
include: creating healthier environments, creating infrastructure to support activity; developing
programs to target a variety of age levels; prioritizing strategies to reduce racial and ethnic
disparities, including social, economic, and geographic determinants of health, and addressing
special populations’ needs.
3/25/10