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Health disparity gap widening for minority children

Minority children have higher mortality rates, less access to physicians and fewer immunizations than do white children, according to a report in the April Pediatrics. Researchers analyzed 111 studies published between 1950 and the first week of March 2007 that examined racial/ethnic disparities for U.S. children up to age 18. The review found gaps in health care persisted or worsened for the nation's four major minority groups identified for the study: African-Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Latinos. Latino children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia had higher adjusted risks of death than their white counterparts, according to the report conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Pediatric Research ( Asthma prevalence and incidence of HIV/AIDS were highest among African-American children. Pacific Islander children with cancer had significantly grea ...

CMS boosts funding for Medicare assistance

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has distributed more than $40 million to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs to help Medicare beneficiaries obtain more information about their benefits choices. The funding was made available on April 1 to the 54 SHIPs in the U.S. and its territories and is intended to assist people with limited incomes, beneficiaries with disabilities, and members of diverse racial and ethnic groups, CMS said. Earlier this year, the agency said it would dole out SHIP grant awards, but it did not specify how much each state would receive until the April 5 announcement. States receiving the largest amounts are California ($3.56 million), Florida ($2.72 million), New York ($2.31 million) and Texas ($2.30 million). CMS noted that, in applying for the grants, several SHIPs presented plans for expanding outreach activities to impact more American Indian and Hispanic populations. "Over the past 20 years, the faces of our Medicare beneficiaries ...

Advance care planning focus of awareness campaign

Only a third of patients have living wills, and fewer than half of patients who have severe or terminal illnesses have advance directives, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. More than 850 hospitals, hospices, law firms and other organizations around the country are hoping to change that April 16 by participating in the third annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. The event is designed to raise awareness about the need for advance care planning and make it easier for patients to make their wishes known. More than a quarter of dying patients lack the capacity to make end-of-life care decisions, says a study in the April 1 New England Journal of Medicine ( For the two-thirds of patients who planned in advance -- completing a living will or appointing a durable power of attorney -- most received care consistent with their wishes, according to the study, which looked at 3,746 patients from 2000 to 2006. N ...