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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 22, 2000


Today, I am pleased to sign the Health Care Fairness Act into law. This legislation provides long overdue attention to the dramatic disparities in the incidence of disease and health care outcomes in minorities as compared to the overall population. It is unacceptable that African American men have a higher overall cancer incidence and infant mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic group; Hispanic and Native Americans suffer much greater rates of diabetes, and Asian American and Pacific Islanders are afflicted with extraordinarily high levels of cancer of the liver.

The legislation being enacted today authorizes over $150 million to create a new national center for research on minority health and health disparities at NIH; increases funding for research on race and health disparities at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; and creates a new program to attract health disparity researchers into this critically important field. We must build on today's achievement by assuring adequate funding for these and other initiatives that will help close the health status gap in this nation. It will make a major contribution toward eliminating these disparities by 2010 -- a nationwide goal we established over two years ago, and one which must be pursued with the same rigor with which we have worked towards eliminating barriers to basic civil rights.