Although progress has been made, “overwhelming evidence shows that racial and ethnic minorities are prone to poorer quality healthcare than white Americans,” according to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, Updated 2010, a position paper released today by the American College of Physicians, an internal medicine society made up of some 129,000 physicians and medical students.
Despite gains, racial disparities linger, ACP says
The paper cites statistics such as how 34% of Latinos lack health insurance compared with 13% of whites and how racial and ethnic minorities diagnosed with dementia are 30% less likely than whites to use anti-dementia medications.
“Closing the disparity gap is not only morally and professionally imperative, it remains a glaring civil rights injustice that must be addressed,” the paper declares.
Among the ACP positions included in the papers are calls to provide all legal residents with affordable health insurance; to strengthen health literacy among racial and ethnic minorities; to incorporate cultural competency training into medical school curriculum; and to develop a diverse healthcare workforce “that is more representative of the patients it serves” in order to promote equity in the healthcare system.
The paper updates a 2003 report and notes that some problems have been exacerbated since then. As proof, it cites an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report that states that African-Americans fared “significantly worse” than whites on 19 of 38 quality measures and that African-Americans were more likely to report poor provider-patient communication than white patients.
The reports also mentions a Commonwealth Fund survey that indicates how use of the medical home model can lessen access disparities and improve the quality of care received in terms of preventive medicine and chronic disease management.
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