The heads of eight traditionally black schools of health announced yesterday that they have formed the National Health Coalition for Minorities and the Poor to battle federal health budget cuts they said would endanger health care for blacks and other minorities.
Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, said at a Capitol Hill news conference that budget cuts proposed by President Reagan not only threaten to reduce sharply direct health services to inner-city blacks, the nation's 35 million people without health insurance and impoverished rural minorities, but make it less possible for minority health schools to train doctors willing to work in "medically underserved inner city and rural areas."
"There is a widening gap in health status among the nation's poor and minorities and the nation's majority population," said Sullivan, citing a 1985 report by the Department of Health and Human Services.
"Black infants are twice as likely to die in their first year of life as are white infants," Sullivan said. "The life expectancy of blacks is five years less than that of whites . . . .Annually in the black community almost 60,000 excess deaths occur" because blacks suffer much more heavily from certain treatable conditions.
The eight schools, which have traditionally focused on training blacks, include Morehouse, Xavier University College of Pharmacy in New Orleans, Meharry Medical College and Meharry Dental College in Nashville, Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy in Tallahassee, Texas Southern University School of Pharmacy in Houston, Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School in Los Angeles and Tuskegee Institute School of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama.
Other groups in the coalition include the National Medical Association, National Dental Association and the Children's Defense Fund.
Sullivan said black students in medical training, because they are on average poorer than whites, depend disproportionately on government scholarships. Blacks are 12 percent of the population but are less than 3 percent of the nation's doctors and pharmacists.
Among budget cuts he said would hurt blacks: termination of some federal training assistance programs for health personnel; cuts in special aid to minority and small colleges research; cuts in Medicare payments for training of medical interns, residents and other health personnel; big reductions in student aid and the guaranteed student loan programs; higher charges for certain health-training loans; big cuts in Medicaid, and added costs to patients on Medicare.