NAACP Supports Findings Of Healthcare Disparities In African American Medicare Patients

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) expressed concern over findings of health care disparities in medical care given to elderly African Americans versus whites. In a report released in the August 5 New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found inadequate healthcare for black Medicare patients.

More than 25 percent of African American Medicare patients visited physicians who could not consistently deliver high-quality care, compared to less than 20 percent of white patients. The study reported that only 22 percent of all U.S. primary care physicians accounted for 80 percent of all visits by African American patients.

Kweisi Mfume, NAACP President and CEO, said: "While these findings are preliminary, the current state of affairs regarding health disparities is unacceptable. We urge the leaders
of this study to continue their investigation for greater comprehensive and accurate conclusions concerning the disparities between the African American community and the society at large. All Americans ought to have a reasonable expectation that our nation will be committed to ending such gross differences in the availability of quality health care.

The NAACP Call to Action on Health initiative details disparities in such diseases as cardiovascular, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and cancer. The initiative calls for a reduction in health care disparities by at least 25 percent over the next five years by focusing on health management and prevention efforts on raising awareness of health risks, unbiased research and development, and changes in healthcare policy."

The study also found that African American elderly patients were more likely than whites to see physicians who could not consistently refer patients to high-quality specialists, diagnostic imaging, and hospital admissions. More than 85 percent of white patients' visits occurred with physicians who are board certified, compared to less than 80 percent of African American patients.

Researchers at the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), a policy research organization addressing the nations changing health system, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a renowned cancer research center located in New York City, conducted the study. Its participants included 12,000 practicing physicians, and more than 4,300 primary care physicians, 43,000 elderly Medicare patients, and 150,000 patient visits.

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