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New health equity scorecard from the Commonwealth Fund finds persistent racial disparities

The Commonwealth Fund
An extensive analysis from the Commonwealth Fund finds deep-seated racial and ethnic health disparities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. And many of these disparities have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new report is highlighting racial inequities in the nation's health care system.

Lead author David Radley, a senior scientist for tracking health system performance for the Commonwealth Fund, says researchers looked for health equity, but found none.

Radley says “The scorecard finds that health equity does not exist in the U.S. Even in states with relatively strong performing health systems, people of color, particularly black, Latino, and Native American, have a higher mortality, less access to care and are more likely to receive lower quality care compared to white people.”

The study examined data gathered in 2019 before the pandemic hit full-force, along with other data collected in 2020.

Dr. Laurie Zephyrin, vice president of advancing health equity with the fund, says disparities appear to have gotten worse.

“I think for many of the pandemic has highlighted the, also the, the impact of structural racism, and how, you know, not having, you know, access to communities that are, for example, have adequate housing, or having access to health insurance, or having the ability to work from home, or other inequities in the social determinants, are drivers of health, really impact health and health and health care," said Zephyrin. "We've also seen with the with the pandemic, also just strained healthcare infrastructure, you know, significant income impacts, and really worsening of social determinants of health in terms of the economic inequalities, in addition to some of the care delivery challenges as well.”

New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut are among six states with health systems that ranked above the national average for all racial and ethnic groups studied. But the scorecard reveals that, even in high-performing states, racial and ethnic health disparities can be dramatic. In Massachusetts and Connecticut, where white residents receive some of the best care in the country, the report found many people of color receive far worse quality of care.

Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal:

“There's little doubt that the pandemic has exacerbated these inequities and other weaknesses in our healthcare system. Structural racism to generations of disinvestment in communities of color are chief among the many factors contributing to these progressive issues," Blumenthal said. "If we want to get the pandemic under control, and mitigate long standing injustices in our health care system and beyond, we need to dismantle the racist policies and practices that have led us here and create a truly equitable health care.”

Here's a link to the report and scorecard.

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