Challenges To Reducing Discrimination And Health Inequity Through Existing Civil Rights Laws
Author: Amitabh Chandra, Michael Frakes, Anup Malani
More than fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, health care for racial and ethnic minorities remains in many ways separate and unequal in the United States. Moreover, efforts to improve minority health care face challenges that differ from those confronted during de jure segregation. We review these challenges and examine whether stronger enforcement of existing civil rights legislation could help overcome them. We conclude that stronger enforcement of existing laws—for example, through executive orders to strengthen enforcement of the laws and congressional action to allow private individuals to bring lawsuits against providers who might have engaged in discrimination—would improve minority health care, but this approach is limited in what it can achieve. Complementary approaches outside the legal arena, such as quality improvement efforts and direct transfers of money to minority-serving providers—those seeing a disproportionate number of minority patients relative to their share of the population—might prove to be more effective.