Sources: American Medical Association and American Academy of Family Physicians
On April 3, leading national physician organizations released a letter urging the Trump Administration to collect, analyze, and make available data including race, ethnicity, and patients’ preferred spoken and written language related to the testing status, hospitalization, and mortality associated with COVID-19.
“It is well-documented that social and health inequities are long-standing and systemic disturbances to the wellness of marginalized, minoritized, and medically underserved communities,” the letter says. “While COVID-19 has not created the circumstances that have brought about health inequities, it has and will continue to severely exacerbate existing and alarming social inequities along racial and ethnic lines, e.g., in housing stability, in employment status, in healthcare access, and in food security.”
“Clear data on our patients’ access to timely testing, clinical encounters, and mortality rates will help to best prepare our physician members to coordinate medical resources to leverage the greatest and most equitable level of care possible for all patients in a timely manner. We also urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to work with state and local public health offices and clinical data registries, where possible, to minimize data burden collection for front-line clinicians, and to ensure that data collection efforts prioritize cultural sensitivity and patient privacy.”
The letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar is signed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Medical Association, the National Hispanic Medical Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, and the National Council of Asian Pacific Islander Physicians.
In a related note, a growing number of federal legislators have highlighted the disparate outcomes associated with the health disparities associated with the COVID-19 emergency. Led by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), five members submitted a letter on the need for better racial and ethnic data. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) appeared in news outlets discussing racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths in his state. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) urged support to address rural hospital closures.