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Internists Praise Biden Administration Action on Racial Equity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2021 — The American College of Physicians (ACP) today praised several of the executive actions announced by the Biden administration as part of their “Equity Day” actions. The administration announced a series of executive orders and other actions related to increasing racial equity.

“Discrimination, disparities and prejudice greatly harm the health of our patients. As physicians we have a moral imperative to help address this issue,” said Jacqueline W. Fincher, MD, MACP, president, ACP. The actions announced by the Biden administration today are a promising step in helping to mitigate some of that harm.”

Today’s announcements from President Biden order the Department of Housing and Urban Development to work on inequality in housing. The interconnected nature of things like issues with housing and other social drivers of health, cause widespread and pervasive disparities.

The actions direct agencies to respect tribal sovereignty, empower tribal self-determination, and strengthen relationships with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. In a recent policy paper,  ACP observed that public policy must acknowledge the long history of racism, discrimination, abuse, forced relocation, and other injustices experienced by Indigenous persons and commit to focused and culturally appropriate policies to address their present reality of injustice, disparities, and inequities. The announcements also disavowed discrimination against and harassment of Asian Americans, which  ACP condemned in a statement issued last March, based on reports of reports of harassment against individuals of Asian descent, including physicians and other clinicians. At this challenging time our focus should be on respecting the dignity of others. We cannot allow prejudice and discrimination to divide us.

The announcements from the administration are in line with some of the recommendations that were included in ACP’s recent policy framework, A Comprehensive Policy Framework to Understand and Address Disparities and Discrimination in Health and Health Care: A Policy Paper from the American College of Physicians, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. This policy paper included recommendations for U.S. policymakers about steps to address disparities in health and health care to enhance the quality and effectiveness of care for all. In a related series of three companion papers, also released the same day, ACP further proposed specific policy recommendations to address the issue in education and the health care workforce, for specific populations, and in criminal justice practices. In a policy released last summer, ACP made recommendations on Racism and Health in the United States that addressed systemic racism, discrimination and injustices in health and law enforcement.

“The problems caused by racial inequities, the discrimination, prejudice, harassment, and violence that so many people in our communities are subject to every day are not something that can be wiped away by a few changes in regulations. However, these sorts of actions signal a willingness to combat this issue in a meaningful way,” concluded Dr. Fincher. “ACP looks forward to working with the Biden administration on future actions on the issues of racial equity and justice.”

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About the American College of Physicians

The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 163,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.