NEW YORK: HHS Investigates Racial Disparities In Care
The Department of Health and Human services has begun an investigation into racial disparities in care at Long Island and Queens hospitals, Newsday reports. The HHS' Office of Civil Rights, New York region, is looking into "revelations that blacks don't get as many advanced procedures" as whites (see AHL 12/1), with African Americans receiving four times fewer heart transplants, "fewer leg-saving blood vessel operations -- but more amputations," and undergoing longer waits for kidney transplants. Michael Carter, head of HHS' New York civil rights office, said, "We're in a preliminary stage of identifying key persons and organizations we need to meet with." U.S. Rep Gregory Meeks (D) and Suffolk County Executive Robert Gaffney have also announced plans to look into the racial gap, and state Health Department officials "are trying to find ways to get doctors ... to do something about the discrepancy." Meeks said that the reports "added research to what many have instinctively felt in the African- American community. ... People may be poor but they know when they're not being treated fairly." State Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried (D) said, "I think the data shows the results of a variety of social factors and governmental policies coming together. Some of that is the consequence of poverty. Some of that seems to be what I hope is unconscious racism in the minds of a lot of (medical) practitioners." Briding Newell, director of the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs, emphasized the need for more minority health care providers (Fessenden/Fresco, 12/23). Click here for previous coverage of minority health.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.