Opinion Pieces Address Racial and Ethnic Health Care Disparities
Several newspapers recently published opinion pieces related to racial and ethnic health care disparities. Summaries appear below.
- Nancy Bennett/Wade Norwood, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: To reduce racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities, the health care community first must acknowledge that disparities "hurt all of us and lead to increased health care costs," Bennett, director of the Center for Community Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Norwood, director of community engagement at Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, write. Next, the health care community must join efforts to eliminate the disparities, "refocus our attention on prevention and on ensuring that all members of our community have access to the best health information and primary care," and "develop effective programs" that reduce risky behavior and encourage proper nutrition to reduce premature death, Bennett and Norwood add. In addition, they say, "We need to be sure that we not only provide insurance but also readily accessible, culturally competent, high-quality medical care" (Bennett/Norwood, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 6/18).
- Dian Palmer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "The same problems associated with inequality in education, employment, housing and criminal justice are implicated in health systems," Palmer, a registered nurse and president of Service Employees International Union Local 1199 in Wisconsin, writes in a Journal Sentinel opinion piece. Palmer said it is important for the next president to address the situation because "[l]eft unaddressed, health disparities will unravel even the best efforts to improve the nation's overall quality of care." She adds that a national bus tour organized by the union will "dramatize" its commitment to "push for legislation that guarantees every man, woman and child access to quality, affordable, equitable health care" (Palmer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/17).
- Vickie Ybarra, Seattle Medium: Inequities in health care and education are "real, and they exist for communities of color" across the nation, Ybarra, chair of the Washington state Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities and president of Yakima School District Board of Directors, writes in a Seattle Medium opinion piece. She notes that in Washington, the Governor's Interagency Council on Health Disparities is set to develop a statewide action plan for eliminating health disparities, and the commissions on African-American, Hispanic and Asian/Pacific-American Affairs, the Governor's Office on Indian Affairs and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will conduct studies and craft legislation that address the education achievement gap. She adds, "Health and education are two sides of the same coin, each impacts the other, and they combine to impact ultimately the well-being of our residents and our communities" (Ybarra, Seattle Medium, 6/18).
- Doug Collier, Tennessean: SEIU considers the "wide gaps in health outcomes resulting from racial inequality" a "grave concern," Collier, president of SEIU Local 205 in Tennessee, writes in an opinion piece, adding that many of its members "have pledged to elect a president with the mandate to fix the nation's broken health care system" and will petition to have reform legalization introduced within the first 100 days. Collier adds, "In a nation that spends more than $150 billion annually in medical treatment and loses nearly $1 trillion in productivity due to illness, everybody pays for health inequities," concluding, "Closing the gaps with equitable solutions is a modest price" (Collier, Tennessean, 6/19).