OAKLAND, CA – In collaboration with the Congressional Tri-Caucus, the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations and members of the Summit Host Committee convened the 2011 Health Equity Summit. The summit brought together a distinguished group of national, local, and community opinion leaders to discuss policy reforms and initiatives that move our country toward racial equity in health care. The Congressional Tri-Caucus is comprised of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The Summit featured Representatives Barbara Lee, Judy Chu, Mike Honda, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Donna Christensen, Donna Edwards and Dr. Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These leaders facilitated important discussions on how to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities that exist in our health and health care system. Summit participants engaged with key leaders and left with a real call to action to eliminate these disparities.

“Racial and ethnic minorities still lag behind whites and many health outcome measures. In our communities, we are less likely to get the preventive care we need to stay health, more likely to suffer from serious illnesses, and when we do get sick, we are less likely to have access to quality health care,” said Kathy Lim Ko, President & CEO, APIAHF. “The Summit raised awareness around these issues and discussed effective policies and community practices for closing the racial health gap.”

“The Health Equity Summit is critical to informing policy leaders as we work for solutions to achieving health equity for our constituents,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Healthcare Task Force of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “I am so grateful for the health organizations that work to bring health equity to all corners of my district. Their tireless efforts to provide culturally competent care is evident and I cannot thank these providers enough for sharing important recommendations and personal insights here at the Health Forum.”

Achieving health equity requires reform on a range of policies such as housing, employment, education and transportation. Last year the Obama Administration and Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which lays a solid foundation for addressing health inequities by focusing on expanding coverage to the uninsured and underinsured.

The conference heard speeches from keynote speaker, Dr. Garth Graham from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Members of Congress, and advocacy experts. In addition to the Summit, the Tri-Caucus unveiled the recently introduced Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2011, which builds on the tools in ACA to address these health inequities and works to eliminate them.

““The Health Equity and Accountability Act is the next step forward in our efforts to eliminate the unique health disparities facing minority communities,” said CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu. “Today’s Summit brought together our nation’s brightest minds and hardest workers in the health care field, and I’m honored to have been a part of this important event.”