U.S. Report Downplayed
By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Writer
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said that his
department was wrong to edit a report about health care for minorities
to downplay serious problems and emphasize improvements.
Responding to criticism from Democratic lawmakers, Thompson on
Tuesday said the report, issued in December, would be released
in its original form calling health care disparities pervasive
"There was a mistake made and it's going to be rectified,"
Thompson said at a hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee
on the president's 2005 budget proposal.
Democrats protested the changes to Thompson after they obtained
the original draft report. The final version eliminated the conclusion
that unequal care for minorities is a national problem, the Democrats
said in a letter to Thompson.
The word "disparity" was used more than 30 times in
the "key findings" section of the draft's executive
summary, they said. It appeared just twice in the final version.
The department conducted the study as part of a congressional
requirement to review health care treatment provided to women,
children, minorities and the poor.
The report found a higher death rate for cancer among blacks and
low-income Americans in its review of the nation's health care
system. It also said those groups are less likely to be screened
for certain cancers and less likely to avail themselves of other
Thompson issued a statement upon the report's December release,
saying it shows areas in which the nation has improved health
care, "but more importantly, it shows us where we have more
work to do and how we can make sure that all Americans benefit
from scientific advances and technological innovations."
Thompson said he did not rewrite the edited portions, assigning
the blame to unnamed officials who "took it upon themselves
that felt they were doing the right thing."
The Democrats said political appointees cleared the edited version.