Massachusetts Health Insurance Reform Legislation: An Effective Tool for Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care?
61 Pages Posted: 16 May 2008
This article examines the potential of the Massachusetts insurance reform legislation enacted in 2006 to address racial and ethnic disparities in health care, by examining select provisions of the statute that establish programs or policies aimed at improving access to quality health care services delivered, and reducing racial and ethic disparities. The article begins with a brief summary of the history of efforts to eliminate legally sanctioned discrimination in health care and how these efforts parallel the impact and shortcomings of the law in eliminating segregation in public schools. Next, the article reviews the literature documenting how health disparities persist despite these efforts. Following this description, the article examines how efforts undertaken to improve overall quality in the delivery of health care services and in health outcomes do not adequately address racial and ethnic disparities. After examining the likely impact of several incentives aimed at improving the performance of institutional and individual health care providers in these respects, the article concludes that the Massachusetts statute will not meet its ambitious goals unless sufficient resources and attention are expressly focused on addressing disparities.
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