“There has never been any period in American history where the health of Blacks was equal to that of whites,” writes Harvard University historian Dr. Evelynn M. Hammonds, “Disparity is built into the system.”
There has been a lot of discussion in the news media these past few weeks about racial inequity in American healthcare. On Tuesday, the Washington, DC – Brookings Institution released a brand new policy brief titled, “Achieving an Equitable National Health System for America” as part of its Blueprints for American Renewal & Prosperity project. This report prescribes five national strategies for creating a “truly equitable” healthcare system in the United States.
Closer to home, the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) recently published, "Building Racial Equity into the Wall of Minnesota Medicaid: A Focus on US–born Black Minnesotans." Writing in the Minnesota Spokesman–Recorder (MSR), local internist, pediatrician and lead author of the DHS report, Dr. Nathan T. Chomilo, notes that Dr. Hammonds quote above precisely reflects and frames the situation in Minnesota.
Dr. Chomilo also cites the “Minnesota Paradox,” a term coined by University of Minnesota economist Dr. Samuel L. Myers, which has long pondered how and why Minnesota maintains some of the highest quality of life indicators for its white citizens, whereas “African Americans are worse off in Minnesota than they are in virtually every other state in the nation.” And, in the same vein, Chomilo relates how the health inequities that plague African Americans in Minnesota and inextricably linked to disparities in housing, employment, education, environmental justice and the criminal justice system.
The DHS report – co-authored by Diego Diaz-Rivero, Ellie Garrett, Jessica Hultgren, and Justine Nelson – promotes clear policy and budget strategies, along with three “Calls to Action” designed to achieve equity in Minnesota’s Medicaid program. These calls seek to:
- Simplify and support enrollment and re-enrollment
- Provide access to culturally relevant care
- Engage the communities and families Medicaid serves
To access the entire DHS report, please click here. And, for Dr. Chomilo’s column in the MSR, you can read that here at spokesman-recorder.com.