In today’s society, we would think that systemic racism is a thing of the past. After all, several laws have been enacted that make workplace and housing discrimination illegal.
However, race is a significant factor when it comes to the level of health care a person receives.
The Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA)
There have been studies that show racism affects the accessibility and quality of medical care received by marginalized groups. It manifests in various ways in how care is delivered, leading to differences in health outcomes.
Bias comes in many forms, influencing health care providers’ clinical decision-making and patient interactions. To eliminate health care disparities among racial and ethnic minority groups, lawmakers introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA). It would address the problem through a multifaceted approach, including:
- Improving data collection and reporting
- Enhancing health care services for immigrant populations
- Increasing cultural competency training for health care providers
The HEAA looks to improve access to quality health care services, regardless of race, ethnicity or immigration status. It would include expanding Medicaid and Medicare programs, improving community health centers, and addressing language barriers that affect access to care.
The bill was introduced in 2007 and reintroduced yearly, with updates reflecting changes in the health care landscape. Rep. Robin Kelly presented the most recent bill, which is currently awaiting review by the Subcommittee on Health.
Until changes are made at every level of the health care system, racism and bias will continue to affect the health outcomes of marginalized populations. On its own, bias in treatment isn’t enough for a medical malpractice suit. However, if that bias led to negligence and caused actual harm to the patient, there could be grounds for a case.