Thirty Years Later, the “Heckler Report” Continues to Influence Efforts to Improve Minority Health
In the early 1980s, former HHS Secretary Margaret M. Heckler convened the first group of experts to conduct a comprehensive study of the health status of minorities. What resulted was the Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health [PDF, 34.5MB] (also known as the Heckler Report) which elevated minority health to the national stage. It served as a driving force for monumental changes in research, policies, programs, and legislation to advance health equity at the national, state, tribal, territorial, and local levels.The findings and recommendations of the Report [PDF, 34.5MB], released in 1985, help to chart the work ahead in addressing health disparities for future generations.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report [PDF, 34.5MB]. Two years prior to its release, Secretary Heckler noted in an annual report of the nation’s health (Health, United States, 1983) that while the health and longevity of all Americans continued to improve, there were significant disparities between non-Hispanic Whites and racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Secretary Heckler also noted the “sad and significant fact” of a continuing disparity in the burden of death and illness experienced by minorities.
Secretary Heckler subsequently established the Task Force on Black and Minority Health, which represented the first U.S. Government group of experts that convened to conduct a comprehensive study of the health status of minorities. The findings in the Heckler Report [PDF, 34.5MB] were a landmark in our understanding of the extent to which racial and ethnic minorities experience significant health disparities.
The Heckler Report [PDF, 34.5MB] has served as a driving force for ending health disparities and advancing health equity in America. This milestone anniversary serves as a paramount opportunity to highlight efforts at all levels to eliminate health disparities and advance health equity legislation, policy, and programs.