NU Online News Service, Dec. 15, 2004, 4:45 p.m. EST

Federal researchers are working with private health carriers to gather data that might lead to advances in care for African-American and Hispanic patients.[@@]

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has enlisted nonprofit and for-profit insurers to help it improve diabetes care for members of certain ethnic and economic groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanics and residents of low-income neighborhoods, program organizers say.

One objective of the 3-year program is to study laws, regulations and member perceptions that limit plans’ ability to collect information about the race and ethnicity of their members.

Researchers set up the program because of reports showing that diabetics in some demographic groups are even less likely to get high-quality care than members of the general population, organizers say.

Some of the health carriers participating in the project are Aetna Inc., Hartford; CIGNA Corp., Philadelphia; UnitedHealth Group Inc., Minnetonka, Minn.; and WellPoint Inc., Indianapolis.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, Washington, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago, and several private research centers are also participating.