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  • Writer's pictureKaren Brittingham-Edmond

Celebrating National Minority Health Month With Joseph S. Palm, Regional Director For The U.S. Department Of Health And Human Services Region II

April 17, 2024

 Improving Access to Healthcare: 

Joseph Salvador Palm's Mission for Minority Health Month

Joseph S. Palm, the Regional Director for Health And Human Services (HHS) Region Two, is a beacon of inspiration. His jurisdiction includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through his unwavering dedication, he ensures that healthcare policies and programs are implemented in the region, focusing on making healthcare accessible, affordable, and high-quality for residents. Joseph's collaborative approach and commitment to identifying and addressing healthcare challenges in the area is truly remarkable. As a liaison between the H.H.S. headquarters and the regional offices, he plays a pivotal role in ensuring that policies and programs are effectively implemented at the local level while positively transforming the lives of countless individuals in the community. 

The Office Of Regional Health & Human Services Two contacted the Echo, NJ's oldest Black-owned newspaper, to share Palm’s passion for healthcare and raise awareness about National Minority Health Month. It's heartening to see individuals like Palm taking action to promote important causes, and the relaunched Echo is confident that the Office of Health and Human Services efforts will inspire others to do the same.

Biden Administration’s Lower Cost Prescription Drugs are

Delivering for People of Color this Minority Health Month

April is Minority Health Month, a time to acknowledge and raise awareness about health disparities among historically disadvantaged minority populations in our country – and what President Biden is doing to close the gap. 

While this observance may come once a year, this Administration has made it a priority every day to put equity at the center of all of our work. Though we are taking great strides to improve access to health for all Americans, it’s important to recognize that disparities persist – due to the structural and systemic discrimination that has been built into our health system, making it harder for many people of color and minority groups to access and afford health care. It’s why I’m working every day to implement President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, to improve access to health care, lower prescription drug costs, and reduce health disparities among people with Medicare.   

The President’s historic prescription drug law is lowering healthcare costs across the board for American families, including seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare. 

This is especially good news for millions of New Jerseyans. One of the most important parts of the Inflation Reduction Act is also one of the most beneficial to Black and Latino New Jerseyans with Medicare; the law capped the cost of each covered insulin product at $35 per month’s supply. 

Diabetes disproportionately impacts many communities of color. Longstanding structural barriers due to racism and discrimination have affected the ability of many people of color to have health insurance, access to a regular source of health care, access to healthy foods, and many other factors that have led to higher rates of diabetes and other chronic conditions. Due to these systemic barriers, Black, Latino, and Asian Medicare enrollees have higher rates of diabetes compared to white Medicare enrollees. (39 percent, 37 percent, and 35 percent versus 24 percent, respectively). Black, Latino and Asian Medicare enrollees also report more difficulty affording their prescriptions than their white counterparts. 

Capping the cost of insulin provides not only financial relief, but peace of mind to many families that may be struggling to afford this medication. 

Additionally, the law capped out-of-pocket drug costs for people with Medicare prescription drug plans to make sure that all prescription drugs are affordable for those who need them. This year, certain people with Medicare with high prescription drug costs will now see some relief by no longer paying anything out-of-pocket once they hit about $3,500 in 2024. When I was speaking to a group of seniors just outside of New York City, they were amazed to learn that these new protections are here for them. That kind of savings can make a world of difference for seniors.

Next year, even more New Jerseyans will benefit from cost reductions. Medicare enrollees will benefit from a flat $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on all Medicare Part D prescription drug costs. That can mean saving thousands of dollars, a life-changing amount for many seniors and people with disabilities who are currently struggling to afford their medication.  

More needs to be done to reduce racial health disparities in this country. As HHS Regional Director, I’ve dedicated much of my time to promoting health equity.

But thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, we’re seeing real progress. More people have affordable health coverage today than ever before, and we are tackling the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs at every angle – making it easier for people of color and others who have historically faced significant barriers to health care to get the life-saving medication and care they need. 


Joseph Salvador Palm, Regional Director for Region II of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands)

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