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DHMH Press Releases : Lt. Governor Brown to Address Health Disparities

LT. GOVERNOR BROWN HOSTS FREE HEALTH SCREENINGS EVENT, PROVIDES UPDATE ON HEALTH ENTERPRISE ZONES PROGRAM TO ADDRESS HEALTH DISPARITIES

 

LANDOVER, Md. (May 31, 2012) - Today, as part of a series of Healthy Maryland Week events promoting health and wellness across the state, Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown hosted a free health screening event at the Wayne K. Curry Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex in partnership with the Prince George's County Health Department, Kaiser Permanente and Greater Baden Medical Services. Free screenings for hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes were offered to county residents.  Prince George's County demonstrates significant health disparities with higher rates of hypertension and fewer primary care physicians than many other Maryland counties.  African Americans in the county are twice as likely as whites to die of kidney disease or diabetes.
 
Lt. Governor Brown highlighted the O'Malley-Brown Administration's efforts to address health disparities and provided an update on the implementation of Maryland's new Health Enterprise Zones (HEZ) program to reduce disparities, an initiative developed by the Lt. Governor and passed by the General Assembly during the 2012 Legislative Session. 

"Healthy Maryland Week is an opportunity to increase awareness of resources available across our state to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities. I want to thank the Prince George's County Health Department, Kaiser Permanente and Greater Baden Health Services for offering free screenings today and for the critical health services you provide every day to County residents," said Lt. Governor Brown. "Despite numerous medical advances, unacceptable health disparities persist among racial and ethnic groups and between geographic areas throughout Maryland.  Rates of hypertension, diabetes and other conditions remain higher among African Americans in Maryland compared to whites and higher in Prince George's County compared to many other jurisdictions.  Addressing health disparities is a moral and financial imperative, and our new Health Enterprise Zones program will provide innovative incentives to help groups at the community level improve health care and health outcomes for all Marylanders." 

"I want to thank Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown for promoting Healthy Maryland Week in Prince George's County and offering free health screenings to our residents," said Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III. "All the statistics show that the health of Prince Georgians will improve with improved access to quality healthcare, which is one of my highest priorities.  My administration, including the Prince George's County Health Department, is committed to working with the Governor's Office and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to  increase quality healthcare options for our residents and to move our residents to a general state of wellness."

The FY 2013 budget includes $4 million to establish a pilot program of two to four Health Enterprise Zones throughout Maryland that will be established through a competitive application process.  Public forums on the application process will be held this summer, followed by a report to the General Assembly, with applications accepted and reviewed in the fall.  The first HEZs are expected to be designated by the end of the year.  The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has launched a new Health Enterprise Zones website with details on implementation: http://dhmh.maryland.gov/healthenterprisezones

"Health enterprise zones will address disparities through local creativity and innovation," said Joshua M. Sharfstein, M.D., Secretary, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "We look forward to engaging with communities across Maryland on this and other important public health initiatives." 

"The Commission is very excited to work with Secretary Sharfstein and DHMH to implement this signature health care initiative of the Administration." commented John A. Hurson, Chairman, Maryland Community Health Resources Commission (CHRC). "The goals of Health Enterprise Zones align closely with the core mission of the CHRC in terms of expanding access to underserved communities and building capacity of the safety net infrastructure." 

Healthy Maryland Week encourages Marylanders to lead a healthier life by promoting wellness through physical fitness, diet, and preventative care. The Administration has partnered with the Coalition for a Healthy Maryland to hold events throughout the week to highlight the importance of health and wellness. 

Lt. Governor Brown leads the O'Malley-Brown Administration's efforts to reduce costs, expand access, and improve the quality of care for all Marylanders. Under the leadership of Governor O'Malley and Lt. Governor Brown, Maryland has implemented reforms that have expanded health coverage to over 318,000 Marylanders, half of whom are children, reduced infant mortality rates to the lowest on record, and put the State in position to maximize the federal Affordable Care Act. 

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