ACP seeks to address disparities, discrimination in healthcare

The organization says more needs to be done to fight aspects of health and healthcare which negatively impacts racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural communities.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has released a framework to address disparities and discrimination in health and healthcare that negatively impacts racial, ethnic, religious, and cultural communities.

In a pair of policy paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the organization lays out a framework which would confront the tangled aspects of U.S. society which contribute to poorer health outcomes in people due to their race, ethnicity, religious, or cultural identities.

Another three companion papers were also published offering specific recommendations addressing this issue in regard to education and the healthcare workforce, specific populations, and in criminal justice practices, according to a news release.

“As a physician, I want every one of my patients to be in the best possible health that they can be,” Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president of ACP, says in the release.“Research shows us that many people experience inequities and disparities in health access and outcomes, simply because of their race, ethnicity, religion and cultural identities, and where they live. This is unacceptable. At ACP we are committed to good health care for all, poor health care for none.”

The framework includes recommendations for policymakers to understand and address disparities in health and healthcare which would enhance the quality and effectiveness of healthcare for all citizens.

The release includes the following descriptions of the aforementioned papers and framework:

  • In Understanding and Addressing Disparities and Discrimination in Education and in the Physician Workforce, ACP offers recommendations to create safe, inclusive, and supportive educational and workplace environments; to promote the diverse medical school bodies and workforces; and to support, fund, and strengthen education at all levels.
  • In Understanding and Addressing Disparities and Discrimination Affecting the Health and Health Care of Persons and Populations at Highest Risk, ACP makes recommendations to address disparities in coverage, access, and quality of care for racial and ethnic minorities, including expanding Medicaid and insurance marketplace subsidies, funding translation and patient navigator services, and supporting programs that place physicians in underserved communities. Specific recommendations are offered to address issues that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities, such as maternal mortality rates and COVID-19.
  • In Understanding and Addressing Disparities and Discrimination in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Affecting the Health of At-Risk Persons and Populations, ACP calls for changes to criminal justice and law enforcement policies and practices that result in racial and ethnic disparities in interactions, sentencing, and incarceration and disproportionate harm to these communities. This paper includes a review of the evidence finding that these policies can negatively impact the physical and mental health, and well-being of racial and ethnic minorities. The paper further contends that injury and loss of life at the hand of the state, whether in law enforcement encounters or through inequities in capital punishment sentencing, is a health issue.