At today’s Kaiser Permanente National Diversity Conference in Universal City, CA, CEO George Halvorson repeated his view that the health care reform bill is a civil rights bill because it expands coverage to 32 million Americans.  He described how, in Kaiser Permanente’s experience, diversity leads to both excellence and to the optimization of care.  Senior Vice President for Community Benefit, Research and Health Policy Dr. Ray Baxter said that the goal for Kaiser Permanente – and the U.S. health care system as a whole – should be health equity. He said that eliminating disparities in both health care and in health status should not just be a priority, but our top priority.  Dr. Baxter highlighted Kaiser Permanente’s diversity strategy: diversity in the workforce at all levels, culturally competent care that addresses health care disparities, and growing membership from diverse patients and communities.  And Dr. Ronald Copeland, Co-Chair of Kaiser Permanente’s National Diversity Council stated that for the organization, diversity is not a sideline issue but part of the organization’s national agenda for success. He challenged the participants to help Kaiser Permanente continue to be the “market leader” on issues of diversity.

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