Health Disparities Worsened by Structural Racism Inherent in Medicaid Program

September 3, 2020

Authors of a Health Affairs blog posit that Medicaid’s history and politics are evidence that the program is steeped in racism. The authors use the following points to support their hypothesis:

  • Medicaid was an afterthought since its inception. Almost all attention was on Medicare when Medicaid was created in 1965
  • Once Medicare was implemented in 1966, the federal government pushed hospitals to desegregate but nursing homes remained segregated, leading to worse quality of care and poorer outcomes for elderly African-Americans.
  • Medicaid eligibility was separated from welfare eligibility during the Clinton administration, leading to decreased Medicaid enrollment.

The three authors of the piece, Associate Director of Strategy and Planning at North Carolina Medicaid Emma Sandoe and Harvard Medical School students LaShyra T. Nolen and Adam L. Beckman write, “Black patients have been fighting a battle for health equity and justice,” they write. “They deserve support in their fight for equitable healthcare, and this must start with policymakers reckoning with the more than 50-year history of failing to protect Black patients from racist policy decisions affecting the Medicaid program.’ Read the full piece here.

(Source: Peter Wehrwein, Managed Healthcare Executive, September 2, 2020)

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