Race, Health Care and the Law 
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Vernellia R. Randall
Professor of Law and
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Marianne Engelman Lado

excerpted from: Marianne Engelman Lado, Unfinished Agenda: the Need for Civil Rights Litigation to Address Race Discrimination and Inequalities in Health Care Delivery, 6 Texas Forum on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights 1- 45 (Summer 2001)(218 Footnotes Omitted)

I. Introduction (pp. 1-3)

From Central Harlem to rural Alabama, poor communities of color are exposed to great health hazards and experience high incidences of many chronic and acute health conditions, but have access to relatively few health services. The consequences are devastating: high rates of infant mortality and morbidity due to childhood asthma, delayed care, and, ultimately, shorter life spans. This article argues that civil rights litigation could play a vital role in battling continuing patterns of discrimination in the provision of health care and the lack of access to care experienced by many low-income African Americans. Moreover, the current transformation of health care financing and delivery systems presents unique opportunities for intervention and legal challenge now, before historical practices replicate themselves and become entrenched in the new health care industry.

In the campaign for greater equity in the financing and provision of health care services, is there a need for litigation? What role would litigation play? Before reaching these questions, this article will first outline the need for civil rights enforcement in the health care sector. Disparities in access to health care are centuries old but continue to threaten quality and longevity of life for many African Americans. Further, virtually unchecked patterns of discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity by medical personnel and facilities send a strong message about how we, as a society, value the lives of poor people of color. A mother who cannot find a pediatrician in the neighborhood to examine her child, the person living with HIV/AIDS who cannot afford costly medication, and the patient on a hospital's public ward who learns to shut off his own IV because the bag is empty and no hospital personnel will respond to his calls, each understands the meaning of the message. The disparities are all the more amoral in a society that spends fourteen percent of its gross domestic product on health care, the majority of which is paid for by the public purse.

Next, the article will turn to a historical perspective of legal advocacy and civil rights enforcement in the distribution of the health care services. Although civil rights advocacy in the health care area has been limited, in comparison to advocacy concerning discrimination in the areas of employment, housing and education, health care cases and advocacy have made a difference. Litigation puts issues on the table that are otherwise neglected. Although civil rights litigators have some key allies(including, most notably, the National Health Law Program, as well as lawyers from legal service organizations and the private bar, and many national and community based organizations), there is no organized civil rights health care bar to carry the ball.

Lastly, the discussion will focus on areas for litigation and advocacy, suggesting three possible priorities, specifically:

1. Administrative advocacy to build mechanisms for civil rights enforcement;

2. Impact litigation to challenge redlining and other discriminatory practices engaged in by managed care organizations;

3. The development of new models of litigation to create and sustain medical infrastructure in underserved areas.

By way of qualification, it should be noted that this article does not provide full treatment of the legal grounds for each area of potential litigation. Readers interested in more discussion of specific legal claims can avail themselves of materials and analyses available elsewhere.

Introduction
Racial Disparities and Civil Rights
Historical Perspectives and Civil Rights Enforcement
Litigation and Advocacy
Conclusion

 
Related Pages:
Home ] Up ] [ Introduction ] Racial Disparities and Civil Rights ] Historical Perspectives and Civil Rights Enforcement ] Litigation and Advocacy ] Conclusion ]
Subsequent Pages:
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Previous Pages:
Home ] Racist Health Care ] Using Civil Rights Law to Eliminate Health Disparities ] Racist laws which effect Hispanic Health Care ] Minorities Health Access ] Access to Health Care and Minorities ] Discrimination and Inaccessibility ] Why Race Matters? ] Discrimination and Quality ] Racial Profiling in Health Care ] Self-Perpetuating Mythology - the Degenerate Black Patient ] Health and Civil Rights: Unfinished Agenda ] Lawyers Seek Remedies for Health Care Disparities ] Race Medicine and HealthCare in LA County ]
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Contact Information:
Professor Vernellia R. Randall
Institute on Race, Health Care and the Law
The University of Dayton School of Law
300 College Park 
Dayton, OH 45469-2772
Email: randall@udayton.edu

 

Last Updated:
 03/10/2010

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