Does the Affordable Care Act Have a "Programmatic Blind Spot" About Reducing Health Disparities?

Aug 16, 2011, 5:00 PM, Posted by

The high-quality health care system that health reform aims to advance cannot be achieved unless “pervasive and persistent” disparities in health care are addressed, two experts associated with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Clinical Scholars program write in a commentary published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The piece, by Matthew M. Davis, M.D., M.A.P.P., co-director of the RWJF Clinical Scholars program at the University of Michigan, and Clinical Scholar Jennifer K. Walter, M.D., Ph.D., was published online on August 9 ahead of print publication.

Confronting disparities in sex, race/ethnicity, social class, insurance status and language is necessary for the highest-quality health care, they write. “If we don’t address disparities in health and health care, we will fundamentally limit how much health care quality will improve,” Davis said in a statement.

They cite the reduction in the number of deaths of disadvantaged children from measles a decade ago as an example of a success story. A collaborative effort on the part of policy, public health and clinician communities ensured that more children in predominantly minority communities were vaccinated, thus simultaneously reducing inequalities and saving lives.

Read a United Press International (UPI) story on the commentary.

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This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.