News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
(512) 463-0121

Representatives Dukes and Coleman, Senator Zaffirini Enhance Eliminating Health Disparities

Austin, TX -- A new law passed recently by the Texas Legislature greatly increases the effectiveness of the Office for the Elimination of Health Disparities (OEHD) and the Health Disparities Task Force (HDTF). The Office and its task force are responsible for eliminating health and health access disparities throughout Texas.

House Bill 1396 by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, and Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, was signed into law last week and is effective September 1. The bill enhances the productiveness of the OEHD and the HDTF by reassigning their administration from the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).

"The OEHD reported recently that many programs that potentially could reduce health disparities exist within HHSC's agencies," Senator Zaffirini said. "In 2006 the Health Disparities Task Force requested to move the administration of the OEHD and its task force to the Office of the Executive Commissioner to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. HB 1396 focuses on eliminating health disparities and increasing access to health services for Texas families."

The OEHD was created from the re-design and reorganization of the Office of Minority Health, which was administered by DSHS. The organization's mission is to identify and address disparities in certain health services programs relating to multicultural, disadvantaged and regional populations. HB 1396 will facilitate OEHD's identification of health programs hindered by disparities, most of which exist within HHSC agencies outside the authority of DSHS.

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