President's Letter, March 11, 2009

March 11, 2009

The National Hispanic Medical Association serves as a resource of key information on how to improve the delivery of health care to Hispanics. We also promote career opportunities for physicians who care for Hispanics who are our members. This year we are proud to work with leaders at the national level - in the White House, Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (US DHHS), and in the private sector to develop Hispanic health programs that make a difference to our community.


After the election of President Obama, NHMA started working with the Presidential Transition Team on the health care agenda. In November, we coordinated our initial nominations of Hispanic physicians and other health professionals to leadership positions at the Department of Health and Human Services. In December, Dr. Ciro Sumaya, Chairman of the NHMA Board of Directors, and I, presented to the Obama Transition leaders on health care policy priorities for the new Administration in the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda and NHMA convened a meeting of over 50 physicians and colleagues for the Obama-Biden Community Health Discussion and submitted the recommendations. In January, I participated in the Transition Team meeting with national minority health organization leaders. Our message was - the new Administration can build on past efforts and work with us to create a more responsive health care system to Latinos and to work across all Federal agencies to increase the focus on population health – prevention and health care access information

Since the Inauguration, NHMA has been invited to the White House to the attend the historic Children’s Health Signing Ceremony, to meet with the Office of Presidential Personnel on a second round of nominations for leadership positions with more health related agencies, and to participate in the working meeting - “Health Care Reform Summit”. NHMA was one of two Hispanic organizations providing input to the working groups on Hispanic health care priorities – including the need for incorporating culturally and linguistically appropriate services into all aspects of the new health reform legislation, unlike the 1993 reform efforts. We cannot continue to be marginalized as a ‘vulnerable population’ or with ‘minority health issues’ since, by 2042, one out of four Americans will be Hispanic and over 50 percent of Americans will be from racial/ethnic groups. Health equity in health reform efforts should be the goal for the rising multicultural melting pot population in America.

NHMA has also been continuing our efforts to expand education of physicians and policy leaders through REDES en Accion cancer focus, the Capitol Hill Briefing Series to showcase Hispanic health experts to the Federal policymakers, the National Coalition on Hispanic Health to coordinate with key Latino organizations, advocacy with minority coalitions in DC, and we look forward to continuing the NHMA Leadership Fellowship in collaboration with the NYU-Wagner School to train outstanding mid-career NHMA members in the future. The NHMA Foundation, the National Hispanic Health Foundation recently celebrated its 5th Annual Scholarship Gala with its Corporate Advisory Council and growing number of partners in New York City on Dec. 4th and its 2nd Annual Scholarship Dinner in Sacramento, California.

Finally, throughout this period, I have met with many physicians and others interested in the development of NHMA. We are committed to expanding NHMA, but need your support, your ideas, and your membership. Please join NHMA and support leadership development in Hispanic health


Elena V. Rios, M.D., M.S.P.H.

President & CEO, NHMA

1920 L St., NW, Suite 725
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202-628-5895
Fax: 202-628-5898