Large racial inequities in health care use continue to be reported, raising concerns about discrimination. Historically, the health system, with its professionally dominated, autonomous, voluntary organizational structure, has presented special challenges to civil rights efforts. De jure racial segregation in the United States gave way to a period of aggressive litigation and enforcement from 1954 until 1968 and then to the current period of relative inactivity. A combination of factors—declining federal resources and organizational capacity to address more subtle forms of discriminatory practices in health care settings, increasingly restrictive interpretations by the courts, and the lack of any systematic mechanisms for the statistical monitoring of providers—offers little assurance that discrimination does not continue to play a role in accounting for discrepancies in use. The current rapid transformation of health care into integrated delivery systems driven by risk-based financing presents both new opportunities and new threats. Adequate regulation, markets, and management for such systems impose new requirements for comparative systematic statistical assessment of performance. My conclusion illustrates ways that current “report card” approaches to monitoring performance of such systems could be used to monitor, correct, and build trust in equitable treatment.
Research Article|February 01 1998
David Barton Smith; Addressing Racial Inequities in Health Care: Civil Rights Monitoring and Report Cards. J Health Polit Policy Law 1 February 1998; 23 (1): 75–105. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03616878-23-1-75
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