Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health (Heckler Report)
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health (also known as the Heckler Report), released in 1985 under the leadership of then U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Margaret M. Heckler. The landmark report marked the first convening of a group of health experts by the U.S. government to conduct a comprehensive study of racial and ethnic minority health and elevated minority health onto a national stage.
The Heckler Report documented persistent health disparities that accounted for 60,000 excess deaths each year and synthesized ways to advance health equity. This marked the beginning of a new era in addressing minority health issues, beginning with the creation of the HHS Office of Minority Health in 1986 and leading up to the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
Priorities of the Heckler Report
- Focused on six causes of death with large Black-White disparities:
- Data on "other minorities," including Hispanics:
- Very limited in the 1980s.
- Much more available today.
- The Heckler Report found that 6 causes of death accounted for more than 80% of mortality among Blacks and other minority groups compared with Whites. These include cancer; cardiovascular disease and stroke; chemical dependency (measured by deaths due to cirrhosis); diabetes; homicide and accidents (unintentional injuries); and infant mortality. Based on the findings, the report outlined recommendations in areas of urgent need, including health information and education; health services delivery and financing; health professions development; data development; and research agenda.
- With the rapidly increasing diversity of the Nation and persistence of health disparities, the Heckler Report 30th anniversary serves as a call for all Americans to take action and accelerate efforts toward ending health disparities and achieving health equity in their community.
Progress on Priorities of the Heckler Report for Hispanics
|Priority||Trends||Most Recent Disparity||Disparity Change|
|Care for Cancer||71% improving||29% worse||50% narrowing|
|Care for Cardiovascular Diseases||75% improving||33% worse||0% narrowing|
|Care for Substance Use Disorders||No improvement||No disparity||No change|
|Care for Diabetes||50% improving||56% worse||50% narrowing|
|Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Care||25% worsening||75% worse||0% narrowing|
|Infant Mortality and Maternity Care||43% improving||43% better||No change|
- Most measures of care for cancer and care for cardiovascular diseases were improving for Hispanics.
- About half of measures for diabetes care and maternity care were improving.
- No measures of care for substance use disorders were improving and mental health care seemed to be getting worse for Hispanics.
- Groups With Disparities:
- For many measures of care for mental health disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer, Hispanics received worse quality of care than non-Hispanic Whites. Hispanics tended to receive better quality of maternity care.
- Of measures for which Hispanics received worse quality of care than non-Hispanic Whites, narrowing of the gap was observed for several measures of cancer and diabetes care. No narrowing of disparities was observed among measures of cardiovascular and mental health care.
- Summary: Of priorities of the Heckler Report:
- Suicide prevention and mental health care for Hispanics is worsening, with many disparities and no reductions in disparities over time.
- Hispanics also experience many disparities in care for diabetes.
- Care for substance use disorders is poor for all ethnic groups.