Attorney General Healey Calls for Equity in Health Care

Attorney General Maura Healey

HYANNIS – Attorney General Maura Healey recently hosted a discussion summarizing a new report with recommendations from her office on racial justice and equity in health.

The report, “Building Toward Racial Justice and Equity in Health: A Call to Action”, highlights longstanding disparities and the disproportionate effect that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Black, Hispanic, and Latinx communities.

“This crisis has taken a deep toll here in Massachusetts, and that toll has fallen disproportionately on people of color,” said Healey.

“Moreover, that disproportionate burden and pain is built on a host of other inequities in our healthcare system and beyond, in our society. We have to, right now, look deeply at this problem and, more than talking about it, take action now to address it.”

Healey said that Black, Hispanic and Latinx residents experience higher infection rates, hospitalization rates, and age-adjusted death rates than other communities, as well as are more vulnerable to the economic impacts of the virus such as job loss, housing and food insecurity.

Healey said that these demographics are also more likely to hold jobs that cannot be done remotely.

“These are jobs that have been essential to combating the pandemic, but they are also jobs that have forced people to choose between their own health or paying their bills each month,” said Healey.

She said that Black, Hispanic and Latinx residents are also more likely to use public transportation, exposing them more often to ways to contract the virus.

More likelihood to live in multi-generational housing also makes it more difficult for these individuals to self-isolate and keep the spread of COVID-19 down.

Beyond just the impacts of COVID-19, Healey said that residents of color face higher rates of heart failure, stroke hospitalization and diabetes-related death than white residents.

Black women in Massachusetts die in childbirth at twice the rate of white women, as well, according to Healey.

“These disparities facing communities of color are rooted in deep-seated inequities that exist in the social, economic, and environmental conditions that are necessary for a healthy life. We have to take action now to address these inequities,” said Healey.

The report from the Attorney General’s office calls for action in five domains, the first being expanding data collection for identifying and addressing health disparities to improve care.

The office is also calling for equitable distribution of health care resources so all residents in Massachusetts have access to the same care.

Healey is also recommending expanding telehealth and other digital services as a tool for diagnosing individuals across the state and improving digital literacy in every community where it is needed.

Creating more diversity within the health care workforce to ensure representation and addressing social determinants of health and root causes of health inequalities are also being called for by the Attorney General’s Office.

“By taking action in these five areas that we’ve recommended, I know that we can improve the health of Massachusetts communities of color and build towards equity in health,” said Healey.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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