Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Point to Point COP 24/7

Statement from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In October, during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we remember those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, and those who are battling it now, by recommitting ourselves to their fight and spreading the word of the importance of prevention and early detection.
Despite significant advances in treatment and prevention, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. However, because of the Affordable Care Act, it’s a new day for women’s health and the fight against breast cancer.
We know that the chance of successful treatment is highest when breast cancer is detected early. While not a perfect tool, mammogram screenings are key to early detection. But budgets are tight, and even moderate copays can deter many women from getting those important screenings.
Because of the Affordable Care Act – the health care law signed by President Obama two years ago – many private health plans and Medicare now cover mammograms and certain other preventive services with no copays or other out-of-pocket costs. This means that women can get the potentially life-saving services they need to detect breast cancer before it spreads, without worrying how a copay would affect their family budget. Last year, more than 6 million women with Medicare got a free mammogram.
Under the health care law, other services to help prevent breast cancer are also covered, such as a well-woman visit – at no additional cost– so women have the opportunity to talk to their doctor about their health care needs, their personal risk for breast cancer, and their best options to reduce their risk. The Affordable Care Act gives women, not insurance companies or the government, control over their health care.
Women also have new rights and protections under the law against insurance company abuse. If diagnosed with breast cancer or another illness, women cannot have their coverage taken away when they need it the most simply because of a mistake made on paperwork. And beginning in 2014, it will be illegal for insurers to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition, such as breast cancer.
The health reform law is also helping women who are going through costly breast cancer treatment by preventing insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar caps on coverage. This means that women fighting breast cancer can focus on their health, their families, and living their lives, and not worrying that their insurance will run out while they still need treatment.
We have made substantial progress in reducing the burden and toll of breast cancer on American women and their families. Initiatives under the Affordable Care Act, along with ongoing research, are making real differences in the lives of American women and their families.

Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund Supports $14.2 Million in Awards to 8 States to Improve HIV Testing and Engagement in Care

Dr. Ronald Valdiserri
Ronald ValdiserriThe CDC announced that eight state health departments have been awarded a total of $14.2 million in first-year funding under a new, innovative, three-year cross-HHS demonstration project aligned with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The eight states – Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia – have a high burden of HIV among African-Americans and Latinos and the demonstration project is designed to reduce HIV-related morbidity, mortality, and related health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities by addressing social, economic, clinical and structural factors influencing HIV health outcomes.

“This new program funding represents a carefully planned movement that specifically joins together HIV prevention and treatment into a holistic statewide continuum of service. That is what people with HIV need and it is what we intend to deliver,” observed Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention
The Care and Prevention in the United States (CAPUS) Demonstration Project was open to 18 state/territorial health departments in the United States with disproportionately high burdens of HIV/AIDS among minority communities. Specifically, the eligible jurisdictions had more than 5,000 HIV cases among African Americans and Latinos and an AIDS diagnosis rate of over 6 per 100,000, which focuses this initiative on disproportionately affected geographic areas.

The primary goals of the project are three-fold:
  1. Increase the proportion of racial/ethnic minorities with HIV who have diagnosed infection by expanding and improving HIV testing capacity
  2. Optimize linkage to, retention in, and re-engagement with care and prevention services for newly diagnosed and previously diagnosed racial/ethnic minorities with HIV
  3. Address social, economic, clinical, and structural factors influencing HIV health outcomes
The demonstration project is funded by the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF), which is administered by my office, the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP). (Read my earlier blog post about how the rest of the Fiscal Year 2012 SMAIF was allocated.) In keeping with the spirit and goals of the NHAS, and in recognition of the complex, interrelated, and multi-sectorial nature of the demonstration project’s goals, a multi-agency federal partnership will provide leadership for the activities. CDC serves as the lead agency, with participation from OHAIDP, Office of Minority Health, Office on Women’s Health, HRSA’s HIV/AIDS Bureau and Bureau of Primary Health Care, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

By concentrating these resources in communities that bear a disproportionate burden, providing assistance from multiple HHS agencies and offices, and requiring the grantees to use a minimum of 25% of the total award to fund community-based organizations serving racial/ethnic minority populations, we expect that the CAPUS project will contribute significantly to NHAS goals over the next three years.

Over the coming year, we’ll share occasional updates and highlights from the CAPUS demonstration project. In the meantime, what interventions would you suggest that could improve HIV testing or engagement/retention in care among racial/ethnic minorities? Share your suggestions with us in our talk back section.


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