Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health reform gaps for ethnic elders

Press briefing: Health reform gaps for ethnic elders


The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) — in cooperation with New America Media and the Journalists Network on Generations — invites reporters to "Health Reform Gaps for Ethnic Elders," a press briefing taking place at GSA's upcoming Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta, GA.

Date and Time:

Wednesday, November 18, 5 to 6 p.m. EST. (A journalists' reception will follow.)

Location and Call-in Information:

The briefing will be held in Room 212 of the Hilton Atlanta, located at 255 Courtland Street NE. Journalists can apply for a complimentary media registration online

Reporters who cannot attend in person can listen and ask questions by toll-free conference line. Please dial in at least ten minutes before the start of the briefing. The call-in numbers are as follows:
U.S. toll free: 888-299-4099
Canadian toll free: 866-682-1172
International toll: 302-709-8337
Passcode (to be given to the operator): VK44448


Closing the gap of health disparities for elders — no matter what happens on Capitol Hill with regard to health care reform — is at the center of the nation's unfinished business. The critical link to that is bridging the knowledge gap between health scientists and policy makers.

The populations of ethnic elders are growing at two to three times the rate of older non-Hispanic whites. The proportion of ethnic elders in the U.S. will double by 2050 to make up 40 percent of all people aged 65 and over. National experts presenting new information at the GSA conference will focus on going beyond the current health care debate to meet the needs of our rapidly growing and increasingly diverse boomer and senior populations.

Multicultural and language issues range from better medical and pain management for African American elders to improving nutrition and exercise among low-income Mexican Americans. Without more serious attention to multicultural seniors, ethnic older Americans and the families will increasingly endure a growing burden of disease and disability, while the U.S. will face billions in unnecessary health costs and billions more in lost productivity gains.

In an unusual show of unity, members of the research community in aging will come together to call for closing the gulf between America's scientific and social science know-how and its policymakers.

Speakers will examine unaddressed issues for ethnic elders and how new findings presented at the conference can help to recast the national debate from the costs of health care to comprehensive, continuity of care that will maximize the wellness and productive capacity of older adults and their families.


Sara E. Espinoza, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology within the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. At the conference, she will be presenting 10-year data from the San Antonio Longitudinal Study of Aging (SALSA), partly showing that lower socio-economic status impedes access to the means of healthy aging among frail Mexican elders and those with diabetes. She also focuses on the under-representation of ethnic elders in academic medicine and scientific research.

Carmen R. Green, MD, is a professor of anesthesiology and obstetrics and gynecology, and an associate professor of health management and policy at University Hospital within the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Green's health services research agenda focuses on pain management outcomes for African Americans, physician decision-making, and access to care. She is the principal investigator for the Michigan Pain Outcomes Study Team. Her scrutiny of disparities due to age, race, gender, and class has revealed a "health care bubble," which she defines as structural barriers to health, physician decision-making, and health policy. Green is also the director for the Dissemination and Health Policy Core for the Michigan Center for Urban African American Aging Research.

Toni P. Miles, MD, PhD, is a professor of family and geriatric medicine and the Wise-Nelson Endowed Chair in Clinical Geriatrics Research at the University of Louisville. In 2009 she was a Health and Aging Policy Fellow in the Obama administration, where she served on the health care team of the Senate Finance Committee — working on policies related to geographic disparities in healthcare. Her chapter in a new book, "Life Course Perspectives on Late Life Inequalities," proposes a new way to measure the impact of health reform on disparities in mortality and access to health care. ###

Online Press Kit:

A special online press kit for this briefing will be posted at It will include full-length participant biographies with contact information and high resolution photos; background papers from the participants, and fact sheets about the host organizations.

The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) is the nation's oldest and largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to research, education, and practice in the field of aging. The principal mission of the Society — and its 5,200+ members — is to advance the study of aging and disseminate information among scientists, decision makers, and the general public. GSA's structure also includes a policy institute, the National Academy on an Aging Society, and an educational branch, the Association of Gerontology in Higher Education.

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