As our new Minnesota Commissioner of Health can tell you, the surest way to get published in woke medical journals is to write about the supposed racism everywhere in health care. Even established researchers, which our Commissioner of Health certainly is not, in fact she appears to be completely incompetent in regard to either health care or public health, fall prey to this. Here is Jonathan Gruber, who has probably co-authored hundreds of studies, writing about how much better it is for African-American patients to be seen by African-American doctors. Now there could be something to this, although I have personal experience from years ago with such patients demanding “white” doctors, especially as the progressives who run health care are trying to convince African Americans that every white person, every Asian, every Hispanic, in fact everyone who isn’t African-American, is a racist. No one really wants to be treated by someone who looks at them through the lens of skin color.
In any event Gruber attempts to use data from the military health system to show that compliance with treatment recommendations among African-American patients is better when they have a doctor from the same race. It isn’t clear if the supposed benefit is that the physicians of the same race are more likely to recommend appropriate care, or that the patients are more likely to comply with recomendations. But wait, wait, unless I really can’t read, they don’t actually know which patients were treated by which race of providers, they infer it by the share of African-American providers in the service area. Huh?
Despite the use of some high-falutin’ statistical machinations, the rest of the paper is garbage if you aren’t actually looking at the race of who is treating the patient. But hey, in woke-world, who cares, it is getting the right outcome that matters. So just to be clear, these guys have no actual evidence of who treated who, or how, and so they can’t really show anything about what happens when doctors of whatever race treat patients of whatever race.
Even if what Gruber purports to find were true, I am not sure what he thinks the solution is. Should patients, including white patients, always only go to doctors who are the same race? That would kind of limit the patient pool for African-American physicians. It also is the kind of segregation I thought we were committed to eliminating. And it implies that racial issues in delivering differential health care could never be fixed. How about we focus on making sure that we have the very best possible students admitted to medical school, that they get the very best training on how to treat patients, including an appreciation of racial or ethnic or other background differences that might affect health either biologically or from a social perspective, and that they apply that knowledge equally. But no, the whacked progressives want to have admissions, training, employment, advancement, etc. based solely on ones skin color or other factors that have nothing to do with ability, work ethic or other characteristics actually tied to being a good doctor. Welcome to dystopia. (NBER Paper)