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Civil Rights and Medical Leaders Call for Social Justice in Health Care
Date:9/27/2007

'Of all forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking

and inhumane.' Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- "Everybody knows that the U.S. healthcare system is inadequate. We are here to remind the nation that it is also unfair," said Gary A. Puckrein, PhD, at a press conference today in Washington. "The system continues to treat the White majority in this country as the norm while it neglects the rest of the population in every aspect of health care, from research through end-of-life care."

The press conference -- entitled "The Healthcare Quality Crisis in America: A 21st Century Civil Rights Priority!" -- featured a blue-ribbon panel of speakers, including Mohammad Akhter, MD, MPH(1); Hon. Donna M. Christensen(2); Rev. Tyrone Crider(3); Gerald DeVaughn, MD(4); Rev. Jesse Jackson(5); Elizabeth Ofili, MD, MPH(6); Rev. Al Sharpton(7); Rev. Charles Steele, Jr.(8), Hilary O. Shelton(9); and Richard Allen Williams, MD(10).

"We are free, but not equal," said Rev. Jackson. "The struggle to increase life options continues. Without equality in healthcare, we will continue to have high infant mortality, short life expectancy, and great health disparities."

Minority populations in the United States are struggling to survive a pervasive health crisis, but investment in their health remains disproportionately low. Private health insurance plans spend about twice as much per person on White patients as they do on Black or Hispanic patients. Disparities in the quality of healthcare provided through public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, have been well documented, and differences in income and education do not explain the existence or persistence of this inequitable treatment. Particularly troubling are the delays by Medicare, Medicaid, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and other federally sponsored programs in adopting new treatment modalities for Black patients with chronic
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SOURCE National Minority Quality Forum
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