April 20, 2004, 8:46 a.m.
Unhealthy Disparities: Race-Card Rx
By Roger Clegg
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has announced that one of his highest priorities this year will be passing legislation designed to eliminate racial disparities in health care. The bill he’s introduced, S. 2217, includes provisions that would target federal money in various programs at “patient populations that are members of racial and ethnic minority groups” and at “increasing minority representation in the health care professions.” Now, moreover, some Democrats are saying that his bill would improve health care for too many whites and not enough minorities, apparently because the bill would also authorize expenditures on “health disparity populations” that might include non-minorities.
Whenever someone promises to attack a racial disparity, I worry. Because, inevitably, the problem turns out to be rooted in something other than race, so that taking a race-oriented approach results in more discrimination than you had to start out with.