PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A national conference on health disparities opens tonight in Philadelphia and a former state official will have much to say on the costs of those gaps and ways to close them.

Dr. Calvin Johnson, former secretary of health for Pennsylvania, will be leading a panel Friday afternoon at the fourth national conference on health disparities. Dr. Johnson says there are too few meaningful, public discussions on the significant economic costs of gender and racial based disparities:

“Looking at African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans, the direct cost of health inequality and inequities was about $230-billion. And when you add in the indirect costs, that means the times lost from work, the cost increases to $1.24-trillion.”

Over 200 health care officials, community activists, and elected officials are attending the four-day conference at the Philadelphia Marriott Hotel.

Reported by Karin Phillips, KYW Newsradio

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