Massachusetts Medical Society: Massachusetts Medical Society supports AGO report on racial justice and equity in health

Massachusetts Medical Society supports AGO report on racial justice and equity in health

The Massachusetts Medical Society applauds the work done by the Attorney General’s Office in producing this helpful report on health equity in Massachusetts. The recommendations offered by the AGO have amplified the lived experience of health care professionals and patients within our Commonwealth. While this pandemic persists, it continually exacerbates the magnitude of health disparities in Massachusetts. It is, perhaps now more than ever, critically urgent to take meaningful strides toward health equity by implementing concrete proposals based on real experience. The AGO proposes sensible recommendations that are built from the ground up and are based on a solid foundation.

Specifically, the Medical Society is strongly supportive of the AGO recommendations regarding telehealth as a means to promote access to health care. These recommendations seek to provide parity in coverage and reimbursement for clinically appropriate telehealth services, including audio only services, in order to best promote the use of telehealth by working to bridge the digital divide and ensure accessibility for patients with disabilities. Additionally, the Medical Society lauds the focus on workforce diversity as one manner of mitigating disparities in health care. The institution of medicine has long failed to represent its patient population within its own workforce. It is well past time to develop policies that expand access to medical education for those seeking to enter the workforce and that promote equitable development of health care workforce diversity and capacity.

Furthermore, the physicians of the Massachusetts Medical Society are guided by longstanding and unwavering policies, including a shared ethical responsibility, to take actions necessary to eliminate disparities in health care caused by all forms of racism and shaped by social determinants of health. Accordingly, the Medical Society is encouraged by the AGO’s efforts to address the root causes of health disparities.

This pandemic has cast a glaring spotlight on many forms of inequities, as patients from our most underserved communities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, but systemic racism as a cause of illness and premature death for people of color is not novel. These inequities are generational, shameful and, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the health care community. We applaud the work of the AGO in producing this report and support the recommendations therein that will improve access to quality health care in Massachusetts.

The Medical Society looks forward to continuing our commitment to ensuring that all residents of the Commonwealth have the opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health in all its dimensions, including health care, and we stand ready to assist in implementing the recommendations put forth by the AGO in this thoughtful report.

-David A. Rosman, MD, MBA, President, Massachusetts Medical Society

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