including members of the community, academia, the health care community, and business; policy makers; and philanthropic organizations. The goal of the meeting was to consider the progress—or lack thereof—that has been made over the past decade to reduce health disparities. The workshop also highlighted federal, state, and local efforts to reduce health disparities.


Following introductory comments by Roundtable chair William Vega, a panel of three experts addressed the question of what progress to reduce health disparities has been made. Brian Smedley of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, David Williams of Harvard University, and Steven Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University shared their thoughts from a historical perspective.

This panel presentation was followed by remarks from the assistant secretary for health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Howard Koh. A panel titled Federal Perspectives on Reducing Health Disparities featured presentations by John Ruffin of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD)2 of NIH and Carolyn Clancy from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Presentations focusing specifically on the topic of disparities in childhood obesity were then given by Roundtable member Mildred Thompson, who discussed the obesity program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, Susan Sher of the President’s Task Force on Childhood Obesity, and Mary Lou Fulton of The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities program in California.

A distinguished panel of presenters addressed the question, What do we still need to learn about reducing health disparities? Dennis Andrulis, Roundtable member Anne C. Beal, and Paula Braveman shared their thoughts.

The final panel of the day featured presentations by three congressional staff members. Each provided an update on the status of health care reform legislation and its potential to affect health disparities. At the end of each panel, a question-and-answer period was included.


2 At the time this workshop was held, NCMHD was still a center. Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the center was elevated to an NIH institute, now known as the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparity (NIMHD).

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