The recent killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor have plainly revealed the toxic racism on which our nation’s health care, social, economic, and political systems are built.
As many of our fellow citizens rightfully protest these injustices, an unprecedented public health crisis is further exposing the structural failings in our country. People of color, and Black people in particular, are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. These disparities are not a coincidence. They are the result of structural inequities that have been deeply and deliberately embedded in our culture and institutions.
The Medicare Rights Center shares in the profound pain, anger, and grief of this moment, and we stand with those calling for fundamental change.
Health equity has been a cornerstone of the Medicare program since its inception. From serving as a vehicle to desegregate the nation’s hospitals to expanding health coverage across racial and economic lines, Medicare has helped transform American society for the better.
Despite these successes, systemic racial disparities persist. For more than 30 years, Medicare Rights has fought to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities. Every day, we see the destructive effects that institutionalized racism has on the health and well-being of people of color, especially Black people with Medicare. Many experience worse health, more financial insecurity and housing instability, and higher barriers to care than their white peers. Those who do obtain health services are more likely to face discrimination and bias that can undermine that care.
Based on this experience, we know that poorer outcomes by race and ethnicity are pervasive, and that lasting change will require eradicating the root cause of these disparities: institutional racism.
We pledge to redouble our efforts to ensure Black Americans, including our employees, volunteers, and those we serve, experience safety, equity, dignity, and justice in their everyday lives. To that end, we will examine our programs, policies, and activities, re-positioning them as needed to more fully promote racial justice.
We understand that addressing centuries of exploitation and injustice will not happen quickly or without sustained effort. We are committed to this fight for as long as it takes.
President, Medicare Rights Center