To address this problem in part, all payers should provide funding for linguistic and interpretive materials and personnel. Currently, few private insurers cover the cost of language services, and Medicare does not reimburse for interpreters, the report noted. Only 12 states and the District of Columbia provide funding for interpreters for Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program beneficiaries.
In updating the recommendations from the previous policy paper's call to action, ACP also calls for:
- All legal residents should be provided with affordable health insurance.
- The healthcare delivery system must be reformed to ensure that patient-centered medical care is easily accessible to racial and ethnic minorities, and physicians are enabled with the resources to deliver quality care.
- Diversity in the healthcare workforce must be encouraged.
- Inequities in education, housing, job security, and environmental health must be erased if health disparities are to be effectively addressed.
- Efforts must be made to reduce the effect of environmental stressors that disproportionately threaten to harm the health and well-being of racial and ethnic communities.
- More research and data collection related to racial and ethnic health disparities is needed to empower stakeholders to better understand and address the problem of disparities.
Racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare present a difficult challenge that results from the interaction of multiple complex factors, for which there are no easy solutions," Ralston adds. "However we as physicians, and as a society, have a moral imperative that appropriate resources are devoted to responding to the challenge."
Janice Simmons is a senior editor and Washington, DC, correspondent for HealthLeaders Media Online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org