By Vincent Lim
William A. Vega, executive director of the Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging at the USC School of Social Work, discussed the U.S. health care system and health disparities in low-income communities of color at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14.
The conference was part of a series of events organized by the institute, which marked Hispanic Heritage Month. The events brought together Latino leaders, experts and scholars to participate in discussions about major policy issues affecting the Latino community. Health care reform was among the key issues discussed.
The existing health care system is designed primarily to treat acute disease as opposed to chronic disease, Vega said at a plenary session. He also stressed the need for the health care system to meet the critical needs of low-income families.
Vega, one of the nation’s experts on health disparities that affect aging ethnic minority populations, said more health clinics need to treat patients in their own language and provide more effective, trouble-free ways to receive follow-up services.
First lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius were among the other panelists to address health care during the plenary session, which was moderated by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif).