Dr. Rios speaks on....

June 26, 2015

US Supreme Court Decision on King vs Burwell Case is a Health Care Victory

On June 25th, 2015 -  the US Supreme Court in a 6-3 vote ruled that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows the Federal government to provide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class persons buy health insurance across the nation, whether or not the insurance exchange being used in a State was developed by the Federal government or by the State. The Justices voting for the subsidies were Sotomayor, Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer, Kennedy and Roberts and the Justices voting against were Scalia, Alito and Thomas. 

This is the second time the Supreme Court has reviewed a case regarding the ACA and has ruled in its favor which shows that the law will survive and increase health care insurance coverage, and decrease health disparities in the US.

The future of health care includes more focus on health insurance literacy programs for adults – in the workplace, in college, and at other places and events – and the health education about prevention and healthy lifestyle.

The National Hispanic Medical Association urges all to learn about healthy lifestyles ---and about your health and behavioral health.

For Latino families and especially for young infants and children – this means creating healthy habits and behaviors -- focusing on healthy diets, changing our recipes and eating habits and food and beverage choices. This year will also be the year for the reauthorization of the Healthy Kids Act (school meals) and the announcement of new Diet Guidelines from the Federal government and a great opportunity to teach our community about being healthy with new knowledge about the importance of decreasing portions of food as well as fat, sugar, salt and increasing water consumption in the American diet and increasing physical activity in our daily lives.

We welcome  your ideas and strategies to share ---

Elena Rios, MD


April 4, 2014

Technology Offers Solutions for Patients and Doctors

When it comes to gaining access to health insurance, Hispanics have struggled more than any other demographic in America.  Roughly 30 percent of Hispanics remain uninsured compared to just 19 percent of African Americans and 11 percent of Whites.  And growing demand for health care services coupled with the dwindling numbers of primary care physicians means that even with health insurance coverage, accessing health care may still present challenges for some patients.

Last week, the National Hispanic Medical Association held our 18th Annual Conference, during which we discussed these concerns and present possible solutions. We hosted a panel titled "Best Practices for Technology to Engage Hispanic Patients" that addressed how technological innovations like telemedicine and mHealth can help provide better care for patients.

Advances in communications technologies and widespread availability of broadband services are crucial to providing medical care that best meets patient needs.  Broadband-based devices and innovations allow for patient-centered in-home care and monitoring of certain chronic conditions. Additionally, telemedicine offers opportunities for medical professionals to share electronic records and diagnostic images, regardless of location.  Health care information technologies can benefit everyone, allowing efficient coordination of care, cost-effective health care services, and improved communication between patient and doctor.

Technology also offers crucial opportunities for patients to take charge of their health, by learning about specific health conditions, and improving wellness with online resources or mobile tools.  Increasing convenience of care is a key issue for many patients, and technology can help achieve this while also helping patients become better informed and take a more active role in improving their health.  Technology can also facilitate stronger relationships between doctors and patients, facilitating communication and cooperation to meet health and wellness goals.

For many Hispanics, financial as well as cultural and language barriers prevent them from attaining quality healthcare.  Here, too, technological advances offer easier, more convenient and cost-effective solutions for patients, their families, and health care providers.  For example, various applications and devices are available to translate languages or to facilitate understanding of different cultures and their impact on health care.  The availability of advanced communications technologies can also help providers and their personnel coordinate with social services or organizations that focus on helping specific populations, as needed

In the coming years, there will undoubtedly be even more opportunities available for patients from minority communities and their doctors to work together and achieve better health outcomes.  Increasing access to broadband connectivity - both wired and wireless, is a critical health care goal. The benefits of health care technologies are too vital for Hispanics and doctors alike, and we must support efforts that focus on reducing barriers both to health care and to health care technologies.

Elena Rios, MD, MSPH


May 31, 2013

Affordable Care Act Health Planning 

As the Federal and State government leaders are developing protocols and regulations to provide health insurance that is more affordable through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces (State-based, Federal-faciliated or Federal-based), and some in Congress consider how to stop the moving train...we at NHMA have been planning our next wave of efforts to educate physicians and healthcare providers about the ACA with media campaigns.

At the end of this year's Annual Conference, NHMA and its partner health professional association and medical society presidents and other conference attendees, discussed how to work more closely with TV, Magazines, Newspapers, online newsletters in English and Spanish. This Leadership Institute resulted in an educational forum with excited leaders interested in continued media training and working with NHMA and media opportunities to increase enrollment among our Latino community. 

Over the next month, NHMA plans to build a cadre of writers and interviewers for our media partners. Anyone interested ---please contact our office.

Elena Rios, MD, MSPH


April 6, 2013

NHMA Upcoming Annual Conference in Washington, DC to focus on Implementation of the ACA with Medical Homes Models and Hispanic populations lessons learned

We look forward to hearing from physicians and health experts from across the nation to share what is happening this year to improve healthcare to our communities ---We will hear from Congressmembers on key health committees and our Hispanic and Black Caucus leaders as well as from US Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Medicare and Medicaid leaders, health insurance company leaders from Care First, from Anthem, from AHIP and the president of PhRMA, the president of SCAN Foundation focused on dual eligible healthcare, the president of the NY Academy of Medicine involved with NY State Health Reform, the Sr VP of the Kellogg Foundation focused on race and poverty and child obesity reduction, the global health leaders from PAHO, HHS, Mexico to discuss how they see health reform in the US and major Hispanic focused Media - such as ImpreMedia, Univision, Telemundo, MundoFox, Fusion, CNN en Espanol, the leaders at the White House Briefing on the ACA, and doctors and health professionals working in our poor communities in Bronx, East LA, Chula Vista, Coachella Valley, Lower Rio Grande, Tucson, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and many more communities. We need to continue to build our networks to build real time efforts to improve healthcare, prevention, mental healthcare and oral healthcare to all Americans. Join us at the 17th Annual NHMA Hispanic Health Conference ---April 25-28, 2013.  See www.nhmamd.org.

Elena Rios, MD, MSPH


Dec. 17th, 2012

HHS has decided that States will not have partial expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The law calls for expansion of Medicaid to those with income from 100 to 133 percent of poverty and the Federal government will pick up the tab for 3 years for the expansion. We applaud the importance of increasing access to healthcare through the Medicaid program and hope to see more state participation to help the poor in our country.

On another note, last week the Office of Personnel Management met on the progress of the Hispanic Task Force to assist with new programs to hire Hispanics for the Federal jobs across all agencies. NHMA is especially focused on encouraging health care professionals to consider leadership positions at HHS and other health care related positions. We are now working with the White House and have nominated Hispanics to thier political appointment process for the second term of the Obama Administration.

Dec. 1st, 2012

Thank you to all attendees of our National Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship Galas in Los Angeles on Nov. 8th and in NYC on Nov. 29th who honored our Awardees and Student Scholars. Please see the National Hispanic Health Foundation website at http://www.nhmafoundation.org website.

Nov. 18th - Wanted to express our sincere appreciation to all our guests and supporters who joined us at our Foundation's California Scholarship Gala at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica last week - we had 260 plus guests to witness the presentations to the Hispanic Health Leaders and Scholarship Students from medical, dental, nursing, public health and policy schools in the state. We were so proud to bring together outstanding health experts who support the advancement of Latinos in health professions to have better quality care for our communities! JOIN US IN NYC ON DEC. 1st for the NY SCHOLARSHIP GALA ----see www.nhmafoundation.org! for another exciting evening!

Elena Rios, MD, MSPH

NHMA Boards of Directors Meet to Plan Regional Hispanic Health Activities at a Retreat --- We recognize how important it is to educate physicians and health experts as well as mentor residents and students about the strategies from the Federal government and private sector that can improve our community's health -----Let us know your efforts to develop new programs for Hispanic Health ----consider speaking at our Annual 2012 Conference in April in DC ---Submit an Abstract and share your innovative programs, We need to share strategies and not have to reinvent programs that are responsive to our communities for prevention and care delivery.

NHMA urges Congress and Senate to vote no to the Boehner Debt Plan ---to avoid the short term revisit to this debt debate next spring and to the cuts to Medicare beneficiaries by becoming a voucher program and Medicaid becoming a block grant program.  We sent letters to all Congress and Senate on Thursday, July 28th and spoke at the Tricaucus and Progressive Caucus Congressional Briefing last week to educate staff on impact on Hispanic and other poor and middle class communities, along with women's and other advocacy groups.

NHMA Participates at the White House Latino Policy Summit this week -
Dr. Flores, NHMA Board Chairwoman and Dr. Rios, NHMA President & Ceo met with top Federal officials from across Cabinet officials about key programs of the Obama Administration. We especially heard about new prevention programs and educational programs to decrease obesity and promote healthy lifestyle. In addition, we networked with 165 other Latino Leaders to engage in advancing our collective goals of improving our community's placement in society - And Dr. Rios participated in the NHLA Meeting with White House Officials - and advocated to save Medicaid this week in the debt discussions, as did the other Hispanic leaders.

NHMA Regional Health Care Reform Forums - We had a great show of providers and health experts (60 in NYC at the New York Academy of Medicine and 165 at the Tamayo Restaurant in East Los Angeles) last week to hear from CMS, CDC and HHS Officials and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano policy staff speaking about the latest implementation of health care reform --- We recognize the great need to educate our leaders to get involved with the opportunities in e-health, access to insurance adjustments, tax credits for small business, population prevention efforts, workforce training and cultural competence efforts as well as quality care incentives ---for improved health of our communities. NHMA is working on quality care, health exchange, safety net issues and more in DC ----what are you working on in your hospital? clinic? medical practice? Let us know ...

Protect All from Flu Campaign 4th Leadership Forum, May 18th - coordinated by NHMA in collaboration with NMA, US DHHS OMH, KU Medical Center and Region VII, Kansas City

We had a great forum and made the news in Kansas City - CBS TV and local papers --to discuss the need to build our education of providers to increase flu vaccinations among Black and Hispanics. We also learned from the  health professionals and the public health community working with Walgreens on how Kansas City became the number one city of ten cities that HHS that had vaccinations in our communities during this past flu season.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and the U.S. Department of Education released their report - Winning the Future: Improving Education for the Latino Community

This report is a key national report with the Obama Administration vision for focusing on the importance of healthy development of children, especially at early ages - through HeadStart, Early HeadStart, child care, as well as on grammar school as fundamental to improved education of children. In addition, the Report showcases the vision of the Obama Administration to support the math and science education of our children ---especially for Latinos ---who are half of all public school attendees now and the will be half of the future workforce of America in another decade. NHMA urges you as health experts to consider working with education on the importance of health careers --especially health professions since our community is so underrepresented.

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announces its Stakeholder Plan to Eliminate Health Disparities and the companion report, the National Partnership for Action 

NHMA and its National Hispanic Health Professionals Leadership Network - (major national health organizations: National Association of Hispanic Nurses, Hispanic Dental Association, Latino Forum of Health Executives, Latino Caucus of American Public Health Association, Latinos/Hispancs of the American Dietetics Association, Mental Health Resource Organization, National Hispanic Psychiatrists, Association of Hispanic Health Executives, Hablamos Juntos, and the Hispanic Employee Association of HHS) met with Deputy Director Mirtha Beadle, Office of Minority Health at HHS at the NHMA Annual Conference Leadership Institute and agreed to participate in the upcoming summer regional events --to educate our health community agencies on building prevention programs and leadership for more responsive culturally competent services in our communities. Join us as we work with Office of Minority Health!

Dr. Elena Rios

June 28, 2012

Today the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the health care reform law signed by President Obama on March 23, 2010, that will provide affordable health care insurance to 30 million Americans through expansion of Medicaid, tax credits to small businesses to offer health insurance to their employees, and by State Health Insurance Exchanges that will provide insurance with subsidies based on income to the middle class. We salute Chief Justice Roberts for his analysis that calls for all Americans to have access to health care.

In addition, the health care system will have to ramp up to provide more health care jobs for health care, mental health care, oral health care, women's health care as well as new community-based disease prevention to educate more people about healthy lifestyles (nutrition, physical exercise, reducing risky behaviors like smoking and unsafe sex) and new community health workers to outreach to people about the health insurance programs. We know the medical practices, clinics and hospitals in our under served communities will especially be challenged as their communities increase demand for their services.

We are celebrating today since Latinos, who have the greatest rates, of all racial/ethnic groups in our nation, of being uninsured at all age groups, will have the most to gain ---and we know as Latino physicians and nurses and dentists, that our networks of health professionals need to get involved to educate our communities to enroll in insurance and become more engaged in preventive care and health care.

NHMA will be working in our new five Regions during 2012 and 2013 with our partners to continue to educate our communities on the ACA services, programs and the importance of this historic law to the future of all Americans' health. 

Dr. Elena Rios

1920 L St., NW, Suite 725
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-628-5895
Fax: 202-628-5898
Email: nhma@nhmamd.org