Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment

Testimony in Support of An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment

The Massachusetts Medical Society wishes to be recorded in support of Senate bill 2695, An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment.

The Medical Society is a professional association of over 25,000 physicians, medical residents, and medical students across all clinical disciplines, organizations, and practice settings. MMS has long prioritized the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities and recognizes the important role physicians play in efforts to reduce such disparities. Medical literature has long shown that racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. are at greater risk of death and disease from a variety of illnesses because of racial, economic, and environmental injustices, and that they often do not receive the same quality of health care as do other patients. The COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low-income communities, exacerbating these existing disparities.

The Medical Society supports collecting and publishing COVID-19 data on race and ethnicity and appreciates the state’s efforts toward that end, although current data collection efforts have not yet been able to collect comprehensive data; we appreciate the inclusion of additional demographic information, such as occupation, disability status, and primary language in S.2695, as this data is key to understanding the disparate impact this pandemic is having on disadvantaged communities. In addition to ongoing initiatives within the state, we further support the creation of a formal task force to study and make policy recommendations to address health disparities during the COVID-19 pandemic for underserved and underrepresented populations. These measures are critical to tailoring a public health response that aims to address the multiple drivers of inequitable health outcomes and reduce these disparities. Drivers of these disparities in communities of color include barriers due to social determinants of health (SDOH), structural and implicit bias within the health care system, higher rates of co-morbidities that increase risk, inadequate access to care due to structural barriers, a distrust of the system, and language barriers. Additional data gathered and studied by this task force may help identify COVID-related disparities, which may include inequitable access to testing, treatment, and care.

Accordingly, the Medical Society urges passage of S.2695, An Act addressing COVID-19 data collection and disparities in treatment.

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