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The story of the Task Force on Black and Minority Health, and its report, begins at least three years ago.
In 1983, as in every recent year, the Cabinet-level secretary who heads the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, DC, was presented with a report on the health status of the nation. And, as in most recent years, the report noted that the health status of Americans generally had improved, but that the gap in mortality between black and white persons (with more black persons dying at earlier ages) had remained relatively constant.
But that year something different happened. Margaret Heckler, who was head of the Department of Health and Human Services in 1983, commissioned the Task Force on Black and Minority Health to try to find reasons for this gap. The department's 18 senior officials who were named to the task force also were to try to
Check WA. Task force pinpoints sources of excess deaths in blacks. JAMA. 1986;255(24):3343–3344. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370240013004