We applaud the state Center for Health Information and Analysis for highlighting Black and Hispanic residents’ disproportionate reliance on emergency department settings (“Some are admitted to hospitals more often: Data find inequities among Black and Hispanic patients,” Metro, Aug. 23). The findings are no surprise following the results of the center’s Primary Care Dashboard, which demonstrated disparities by race and ethnicity in access to preventive care. The system is broken when families are forced to use ER physicians as primary care providers.
“Forced” is an intentional word choice — primary care access is not readily available in many communities. Decades of underinvestment along with COVID-19′s impact created a primary care access crisis across low-income communities. My organization’s June survey indicated that new patients can wait almost 80 days for appointments. The Globe reported two months ago on community health centers’ proposed urgent remedies to this crisis, and we hope the Legislature will act on them. We applaud the steps taken by lawmakers and the Healey administration.
The solutions to the inequities raised in the Center for Health Information and Analysis report need to be systemic. The legislative proposals from the Commonwealth’s 52 health centers aim to reverse certain drivers of unequal access through a number of measures. They include requiring more sustainable commercial reimbursement and turbocharging the development of Massachusetts’ primary care workforce by joining 44 states in adopting graduate medical education payments, or Medicaid GME, to support residency training for primary care.
The challenge is great, but my organization believes Massachusetts can deliver health care equity.
Michael A. Curry
President and chief executive officer
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers