Health Care Reform: Minorities Still Waiting

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Salon’s Joan Walsh recently called out white working class voters who wrongly think health care reform only helps people of color. On Thursday, the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity released a fact sheet (PDF) that bolstered Walsh’s argument by explaining that recently passed reforms won’t improve the low quality treatment received by racial and ethnic minorities.

The bill won’t tackle social factors like poor food quality, toxic or pollutant-riddled neighborhoods, poverty, and other bad deals that are disproportionately dealt out to people of color and that contribute to their generally poorer health. The Kirwan Institute applauds the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for expanding (PDF) the number of health care centers in the country and insuring a projected 16 million people. But the Institute also points to health and care disparities affecting different ethnic communities. People of color are less likely to get lifesaving heart medications, bypass surgery, dialysis, or kidney transplants—but they are more likely to have feet and legs amputated for late-stage diabetes treatment. That means the battle for improved health care is not over. And more legislation is needed to address racial health disparities.

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