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Mountain of data urging action on health equity in Massachusetts

Tufts Medical Center in Boston.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

It is tempting to believe that problems of racism and inequity in health care are most acute outside of Massachusetts. But data tell a different story, as detailed in a recent report issued by the Center for Health Information and Analysis (“Some are admitted to hospitals more often: Data find inequities among Black and Hispanic patients,” Metro, Aug. 23). Such findings help explain the inequities we see in health outcomes. A recent report from the Boston Public Health Commission comparing Roxbury and Back Bay found a 23-year difference in life expectancy, and another from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation found that the economic burden of health inequities experienced by Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian populations in Massachusetts totaled an astonishing $5.9 billion each year.

Sustainable, comprehensive solutions to structural racism require change in our policies and systems. Toward this end, the Health Equity Compact, a group of health and public health leaders of color, has put forward An Act to Advance Health Equity. This bill builds on Massachusetts’ historic leadership in health care reform, as the first state to pass universal insurance coverage (2006) followed by payment reform to help keep costs in check (2012). Time for the third leg of the stool: addressing the inequity and racism that is baked into the system.


The Massachusetts Public Health Association is proud to work alongside a broad coalition in support of this legislation that brings the promise of equitable change in the health care system within reach.

Carlene Pavlos

Executive director

Massachusetts Public Health Association