While nursing homes were insulated from civil-rights enforcement at the time of the implementation of the Medicare program and lagged behind other parts of the health sector in providing comparable access to minorities, they are the only providers for which current reporting requirements make it possible to fully assess racial disparities in use and quality of care. We find that African Americans' use of nursing homes in 2000 in the United States was 14 percent higher than Caucasians' use. The largest relative African American use of nursing homes in 2000 took place in the South and West. Average nursing-home case-mix acuity for African Americans and Caucasians were essentially identical, suggesting that shifts in payment incentives have eliminated the selective admission of easy-care private-pay (predominantly Caucasian) patients and helped fuel the growth of private pay home care and assisted living for this segment of the population. While these shifts in incentives helped increase the use of nursing homes by African Americans, a high degree of segregation and disparity in the quality of the nursing homes used by African Americans persists. Parity in use is an illusive benchmark for measuring progress in assuring equity in treatment.

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