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On Thursday, April 22, Axios health care editor Sam Baker discussed racial inequities in health care, from policy to disparities in mortality rates, featuring Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and #NotJustABlackBody founder and physician Dr. Magdala Chery.

Rep. Sewell discussed systemic inequities in health care and efforts to achieve access to health services in Alabama.

  • On the impact of the American Rescue Plan: "Giving extensions of the Affordable Care Act to people who are currently in an enrollment period right now...[It also includes] incentives for states that have not expanded Medicaid like Alabama, a five percent boost, encouraging them to do so now over the next two years."
  • On the accumulative nature of lack of access to quality health care: "You don't have preventative services [and so] you can't actually get the benefit of being able to treat some of these issues early on, which just adds to the cost."

Dr. Magdala Chery unpacked how COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities, and how a multipronged approach, from policymakers to practitioners, is needed to make a lasting difference.

  • On where to start with addressing systemic racism in health care: "[We can] listen to the stories of what has happened in this pandemic and start to center the communities and the voices that experienced this firsthand...they're going to be revealing solutions and things that we need to consider."
  • On what practitioners should ask themselves: "When a patient steps through your door, do they feel safe? Do they feel like they can trust that their needs will be heard?... What are you doing within your institution to establish trust, so patients actually feel okay coming to the hospital?"

Axios Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Institute for Gene Therapies Scientific, Academic and Medical Council chair Dr. Donna Christian-Christensen who discussed social and economic determinants of health, and how it impacts everything from basic health to the need for more cutting-edge treatments.

  • "Just a small increase in a minimum wage, for example, has been shown to reduce low birth weight births and therefore reduce neonatal deaths. When you move an individual out of a high-poverty, low-resource area to a place that is a much has a much better environment, we see their health improved."

Thank you Institute for Gene Therapies for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 28, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on racial inequality

Today at 12:30pm ET, Axios co-founder and CEO Mike Allen and Axios Today host Niala Boodhoo discussed how leaders in their respective fields are working to achieve racial equity, how institutions are reckoning with their histories and what is being done to create lasting change, featuring Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), activist and scholar Rosa Clemente and Michelle Duster, author of Ida B. The Queen.

Rep. James E. Clyburn addressed the ongoing fight against systemic racism in America and the importance of a bipartisan path forward. 

  • On the debate over critical race theory in education: “This is a red herring. This is what people are trying to use in order to spread strife...I just think that that's where we are missing the mark, by not explaining to the American people that this is the truth.” 
  • On how the corporate world can advance equity: “I believe that the corporate world really drives so much of the economic activity that takes place in this country. And [it] ought to really play a role there and make sure that we do not allow the limiting of democracy...That's why you see a lot of corporate people in Georgia now stepping forward, saying we are not going to allow these [voter] laws that you pass to define what Georgia is all about.”

Michelle Duster spoke about her great-grandmother Ida B. Wells, discussing her legacy in journalism and speaking out against systemic racism.

  • On journalism as a tool to expose injustice: "If you decided to push the boundaries and try to fight for first class citizenship, there was pushback and ultimately violence. She exposed this reality that lynching was being used as a form of domestic terrorism."
  • On how using the truth sparks change: “You have to tell the truth in order to make change. We have to admit that there's a problem before we can solve it. She was using journalism as a way to shed light on the truth, she was using the truth as a weapon, really against these false narratives that were being used to justify violence that was being inflicted on the Black community. She truly believed that the truth would lead to justice.”

Rosa Clemente dove into the impact of racism in America and what can be done to advance progress on this front.

  • On the impact of the pandemic and the effect of racism on health outcomes: “We as Black and brown people have died disproportionate to the number of people [in the US.] I think it's important that people look at this pandemic because it has shown and shine a light on all the systemic injustices that are happening.”
  • On changing the narrative around allyship: “I don't need an ally. I need you to be an accomplice for justice. I need you to dedicate your life to ending white supremacy and white privilege. Not when it's trendy, not when it's easy, but at the times that it is hardest for a white person to do that. That is the time they should be doing that work.” 

Axios CEO & Co-founder Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie G. Bunch III and global head of environmental, social and governance at Bank of America Andrew Plepler where they discussed Bank of America’s partnership with the Smithsonian.  

  • Lonnie G. Bunch III on the Smithsonian's role in addressing systemic racism: “We were devastated by the dual pandemics, the pandemic of racism and the unfairness in terms of health access...We thought it would be important for us to use our resources to create an opportunity for the American public to find a true understanding of its past and to find hope. So that's what we wanted to do, was to provide opportunities where people use a trusted brand of the Smithsonian to talk about issues, better understand issues of race, and to ultimately help us find that shared future.”
  • Andrew Plepler on Bank of America’s responsibility as a financial institution: “We view it as imperative to our role in society to address some of the great challenges that we face as a country, and we think that a financial institution absolutely can be a partner in examining those challenges and in deploying resources to address those challenges. And there are no two greater challenges today than climate and racial equality.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

Public health messaging lessons for the next pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

"Be first, be right, be credible" is the mantra of public health experts in a crisis. It's difficult to argue that the health community has regularly managed to be any of those three during COVID-19.

Why it matters: A pandemic isn't just a medical emergency — it's also a communications emergency. The U.S. public health establishment, hamstrung by bad data and political interference, has struggled with the latter.

How Hertz is fighting to stay relevant

A Hertz car rental counter in the Miami International Airport. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In the span of less than a week, Hertz has made three big strategic moves intended to keep the car rental giant from fading into oblivion.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing and other mobility innovations are rapidly changing the way people get from A to B, posing an existential threat to traditional car rental services.