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ACP-ASIM takes message on Latino health access to Texas

From the December 2000 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2000 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

The College held its third and final symposium on the barriers to health care faced by the Latino community, in Austin, Texas, on Oct. 18.

Speakers at the symposium said that the state's Hispanic population is facing a health care crisis that threatens to worsen in the near future. The symposium, which was also sponsored by the National Hispanic Medical Association and the Commonwealth Fund, brought together health care providers, politicians and business leaders to discuss access problems facing the Latino population.

While roughly 40% of Hispanics in Texas have no health insurance, more than 80% have full- or part-time jobs. Only 43% of uninsured Hispanics, however, have jobs that provide health insurance benefits.

"The public believes the uninsured don't work," said College President Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, FACP. "It's a myth."

Speakers at the symposium said that Hispanics who lack coverage also face language and cultural barriers and don't have enough information about state health care programs. The results, said Dr. Fryhofer, are dramatic.

"Incidences of diabetes-related end-stage renal disease in the Hispanic population are up to six times greater than in the non-Hispanic white population," she said.

The symposium was part of the College's Decision 2000 campaign to educate policy-makers and political candidates about the importance of access to health care. More information on the Decision 2000 campaign, including a press release on the Miami symposium, is on the College's Web site at www.acponline.org/uninsured.

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