May 11, 2021 - Health

American Medical Association reveals plan to fight racial inequities in health care

Medical forms sit outside an exam room at a clinic
Medical forms sit outside an exam room at a clinic. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The American Medical Association released a report on Tuesday detailing its past failings in ensuring equitable care and outlining a three-year strategy to fight racism in health care.

Why it matters: "[T]he plan marks a major change for a 174-year-old organization marred by a racist history of excluding Black physicians for more than a century," Stat News reports.

  • The AMA, which the report characterizes as "rooted in white patriarchy and affluent supremacy," is the nation's largest professional organization and lobbying group of physicians.
  • Its new strategy comes as the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing racial inequalities in the U.S. health care system.

The big picture: The report outlines a plan of action for the group to "embed equity throughout the AMA enterprise." The priorities include:

  • Creating and implementing an "equity training curriculum";
  • Diversify its employees at all levels, including AMA management;
  • Conducting annual surveys to assess progress on equity;

Yes, but: Doctors who reviewed the report had mixed reactions while acknowledging it is a "step in the right direction," STAT writes.

  • “While it’s thoughtful and earnest, I think it’s lacking in targets, timelines, and teeth,” Raymond Givens, a cardiologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told STAT, noting the report's targets are "remarkably weak and nonspecific."
  • “What’s needed is a big, bold, aggressive, heavily endowed, and disruptive approach — a Marshall Plan for health equity," he added. I’m still waiting for that."

Flashback: The AMA in 2008 publicly apologized for its exclusion of Black doctors.

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