Dr. Hope King, CDC, Underscores the Need for Equity in Health Care

Dr. Hope King, MD, works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) and leads efforts aimed at identifying and preventing inequities and disparities in the provision of health services in the USA. Hope and the CDC have a clear vision: to create health equity, which occurs when everyone has a fair opportunity to live a long and healthy life. To do this, society and the federal government must pursue decision making that it is free of discrimination against certain groups, especially against people of color and those who are financially of very low financial means. The effects of the health care inequities result in high percentages of people of color dying when whites with the same illnesses do not. Hope noted that black women’s babies die at twice the rate of white infants in the USA, and mortality among new black moms is way higher than for white moms. But it is not only race, because zip codes also show inequities among those with lower average incomes who have greater health problems compared to those living in wealthier zip codes. Dr. King summarized health care disparities as based on several key causes: Poverty/Low Economic Status; Social Injustices (and decision-making); Culture, which frequently is influenced by poverty and social injustices, but is still an important category. Dr. King was careful to distinguish between equity and equality: Equality is all getting the same quality of health care, provided they have access to it. Equity differs by insisting on enabling all persons having access without regard to income and race. Too often access is reserved for those who have more money and face no barrier owing to race. In the provision of quality health case, similar to quality housing, quality legal representation and employments opportunities, access is reserved for or frequently available to those with money and whose race decision makers prefer. Equity is lost owing to decision-making factors as governed by race and financial means. Hope referred to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s observation: “Of all the forms of inequity, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.To achieve health care equity, Hope emphasizes three obstacles must be overcome: (1) poverty, (2) discrimination and (3) lack of access to good jobs with fair pay. Systemically, there must be quality of education for all, decent housing for all, safe environments for all, and good health care for all. And speaking of good and affordable healthcare, Dr. Hope King said the passage into law of the Affordable Care Act (signed into law in 2010 by President Obama) was the most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of health care since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, resulting in greater access to health insurance in the U.S. than ever before.
Posted by Neil Shorthouse
March 6, 2020 2:00pm


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