Summary: The holiday honoring Martin Luther King is the perfect day to revisit the problems of racism still afflicting our health care system and indeed our health. Today we rely on the thoughtful commentary of our colleague Wendell Potter.
The health care injustices that Dr. King spoke about are still here. And growing. Wendell Potter NOW, January 16, 2023
How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?
The top story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times brought to mind one of the most-cited Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes about health (and health care) in the United States. It is usually this version–slightly but significantly altered by someone who must have thought his exact words might offend some folks–that we see and hear:
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.
[B]ecause California’s Medicaid program (called Medi-Cal) pays doctors and hospitals so little compared to what Medicare and private insurers pay, MLK hospital had a net loss of almost $43 million for care provided in the hospital’s emergency department last year.
[Read the full post. It is informative and compelling.]
By Jim Kahn, M.D., M.P.H.
Thanks to Wendell for his excellent piece today. I couldn’t do better, so won’t try. To read HJM’s Juneteenth 2022 review of the many racist elements of US healthcare and health, see here. And see here a subsequent report on how hospitals serving Black patients are paid less, as also described in Wendell’s piece.
For this and other reasons, single payer would substantially (if incompletely) mitigate racial inequalities in health. Imagine that, a system that saves money, assures care for everyone, and eliminates financial inequality in health care. Keep imagining it, and working toward it, until it becomes true.
We’ve been on an impromptu break since January 6th. Back soon in usual form.