Racial and Ethnic Data Collection Needed To Study Health Care Disparities, Panel Says
A California ballot initiative that would prohibit the state from gathering racial and ethnic data on certain government forms would have a negative impact on research about racial disparities in medical treatment, a group of social scientists said Wednesday in a Washington, D.C., forum, the AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. The ballot measure, scheduled for a March vote, would eliminate the "race box" from many forms by barring local governments from classifying students, contractors or employees by ethnicity, national origin or race, although it would allow exemptions for some medical research data, convicted criminals, crime suspects or instances in which the federal government requires racial data, the AP/Times-Dispatch reports. Troy Duster, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley and at New York University, said the data is needed so race can be evaluated "as a basis of access or denial" of medical care. Brian Smedley, a senior program officer at the Institute of Medicine, said studies have shown "persistent disparities in the treatment of black and white patients, regardless of insurance or income," according to the AP/Times-Dispatch (AP/Richmond Times-Dispatch, 5/29).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.