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‘Ending Unequal Treatment’ – 5 recommendations on inequity in health care

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National analysis outlines highlights and lowlights of two decades of efforts to eliminate disparities.

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) convened a committee to analyze the last 20 years of efforts to improve racial and ethnic inequities. The results are not good, according to the Academy’s new report, “Ending Unequal Treatment: Strategies to Achieve Equitable Health Care and Optimal Health for All.”

NAM President Victor J. Dzau, MD, said the Academy’s 2002 report shed light on the fact that race could determine the quality of health care.

“Twenty years later, it is clear that our nation has not made enough progress,” he said in NAM’s news release. “There are still major inequities inherent in the health care system. It is imperative that we achieve equitable health for all by committing to pursuing and implementing the goals and actions laid out in this new report.”

In one example, racial and ethnic minorities have greater instances of diabetes, but are less likely to receive newer, higher-cost drugs and diabetes technology. Black patients with diabetes have hospitalization rates 2.5 times higher than White patients, according to NAM’s official news release.

More broadly, racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to have a usual source of primary care. They wait longer during emergency department visits and have less acute triage severity scores when they see a clinician. They get fewer clinical services, have fewer staff to work with, and experience more deficiency citations when in long-term care facilities, according to NAM’s analysis.

Here are five goals for actions needed from Congress, government agencies and any funders of health care. All information comes from “Ending Unequal Treatment: Strategies to Achieve Equitable Health Care and Optimal Health for All,” published June 26, 2024, by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, and the report’s accompanying news release.

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