Health and Human Services

Recent Articles

The quest for health equity is lifelong

In 2002, April was designated as Minority Health Month to increase awareness about health disparities that exist for people of color. Even though April 2014 Minority Health Month is now past, we must continue to address health disparities head on every month of the year. Health disparities exist when certain segments of the population have higher rates of preventable diseases and mortality. Many populations are affected by disparities, including racial and ethnic minorities, residents of rural areas, women, children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. In a recent report to the MN legislature on health equity, the MN Department of Health stated that although Minnesota is deemed one of the healthiest states, African Americans and American Indians in the state have continued to experience higher rates of preventable disease as well as reduced life expectancy. Continue Reading →

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Millions of Blacks left uninsured by states opting out of Affordable Care Act

By Freddie Allen

Contributing Writer


As the Obama administration makes strides to improve the functionality of, the flagship website for the Affordable Care Act, Republican lawmakers continue to block federal funds that would help millions of poor Blacks get health insurance coverage. A progress report on the improved performance of cited hundreds of software bugs that generate errors and hardware and infrastructure ill-equipped to handle any significant volume of traffic to the site. “For some weeks in the month of October [2013], the site was down an estimated 60 percent of the time,” stated the progress report. Two months later, after insiders revealed that the site crashed on a test run with just a few hundred concurrent users, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials said the site is more stable and can handle 50,000 users at a time. Anton Gunn, director of external affairs in the Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs (IEA) at HHS, said that in the first two months, 1.2 million Americans selected marketplace health insurance plans or they received a determination that they were eligible for Medicaid or the children’s health insurance program. Continue Reading →

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Administration defends Obamacare against critics

Millions of Blacks expected to benefit
By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


The Affordable Care Act (ACA), despite sign-up problems and the constant criticism leveled against it, has benefited many U.S. Blacks and will benefit many more according to the White House and Health and Human Services officials — potentially “an estimated 7.3 million African Americans with healthcare coverage and their families,” said White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on a recent media-only conference call, including the MSR, about the Affordable Care Act (ACA). “Providing access to affordable, quality health care has always been, and remains a top priority for the president and the Democrats,” said Jarrett. She cited a new Health and Human Services (HHS) report that shows six out of every 10 uninsured Blacks, or an estimated 4.2 million, “could be eligible for assistance through Medicaid, tax credits or the Children’s Health Insurance Program” in the 25 states and the Distinct of Columbia that has expanded Medicaid “with the federal government providing 100 percent of the funds for the first three years of the program, and never less than 90 percent thereafter.”

“We encourage all the states to take advantage of the opportunity to expand Medicaid,” said Jarrett, noting that this would benefit even more Blacks. [As of January 1, 21 states are reportedly opting out of the ACA. Minnesota is not among them.] Added U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (S.C.), “These [non-participating] states are doing themselves a great injustice by not participating in the Affordable Care Act.”

Health and Human Services External Affairs Director Anton Gunn adds that the ACA website “is night and day from where it was October 1. Continue Reading →

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Healthcare reform covers millions of young people


Affordable Care Act allows parents to insure children through age 26



By Charles Hallman 

Staff Writer


Starting at age 18, young adults are more likely than older adults to lack health insurance coverage, and men are more likely than women to lack health insurance as well. “These are persons who graduate from high school or [are] attending college,” says U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. However, since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, parents now are able to keep their children on their health policies until they turn age 26. “Young adults were twice more likely not to have health insurance than older adults before this law was passed [in 2010],” noted Sebelius. According to, a federal government website managed by the HHS, an estimated 16,000 young adults in Minnesota now have health coverage because of the new provision that came into effect in September 2010. Continue Reading →

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