Presumption of Guilt: Physicians Blamed for Racial Health Disparities
Efforts to raise awareness about “implicit racial bias” or “structural racism” in health care are forcing some doctors to speak out -- carefully.
In March, an editor at JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, was fired because he said in a podcast it was unfortunate the word “racism” taints a valuable discussion on disparate outcomes in health care.
Physicians make a huge investment in time, money, and energy to become medical doctors and are reluctant to make waves with government regulators or powerful special interests. Implicit bias training is now a requirement for credentialing with at least one insurance company and may soon be mandated for medical licensing. Physicians undergo this training at their own time and expense.
Additionally, there is little to no evidence that health care disparities are the result of “racism.” Blacks suffered disproportionately from COVID-19, but science shows this has more to do with factors like population density than subconscious bigotry. If research doesn't back up their claims, politicians should apologize for suggesting that health care providers are racists and remove any orders to address “implicit bias.” Looking at public policy problems through the lens of race is in itself a form of racism. Do woke warriors realize that?
Below are the thoughts of one practicing physician who wishes to remain anonymous.
Eat Your Heart Out, George Orwell
“My state has a race problem and so does the nation. Elected leaders, however, are only exacerbating this problem and using the pandemic as their pretext.
“In the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, a marked mortality difference existed between racial groups. Instead of recognizing the reasons behind this difference are complex and multivariate, the governor of the state where I practice, Michigan, took the easy route and attributed all differences in COVID-19 mortality to racism.
“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer acted on this false assumption in July 2020, when under the guise of combating racism, she mandated all health care workers undergo ‘implicit bias’ training. To be implemented in the near future, this training is to be administered by the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Anyone refusing this ‘training’ will lose their license and the ability to practice medicine.
“Suffering such punishment would effectively destroy a health care worker’s career. Worse, the training could reduce the number of health care workers during a pandemic when they are most needed.
“Setting a dangerous precedent, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) jumped on the racism bandwagon in November 2020, requiring implicit bias training for all of its contracted physicians.
“Refusing this political indoctrination could lead to professional ruin. Doctors might lose their hospital privileges and their base of patients. BCBS dominates 66 percent of the market.
“Most people agree there is a need to combat overt bias. However, the claim is that implicit bias is bias so subtle that the person harboring it is not even aware that they have it. Thus, implicit bias training is not the Orwellian ‘1984’ policing of the content of thought but is the policing of subconscious thought.
“Unlike the dystopic Big Brother, neither Big Government nor Big Insurance has the ability to detect thoughts, much as less detect thoughts that you did not consciously think. Thus, it is patently absurd to claim that they can train you to ‘un-think’ thoughts that you did not consciously think?”
Ignores the Root of the Problem
“By attributing disparities in early COVID-19 mortality to subconscious thought processes, government and special interests ignore the root cause of the problem and block any chance of finding a solution.
“Early in the pandemic, no treatments existed for COVID-19. At that time, African Americans made up 40 percent of the deaths while only making up 13.6 percent of the population. Such a massive difference in outcomes could not be explained by subtle, unconscious, ‘implicit’ bias. With no known treatments, it could not be explained by explicit bias as there was no treatment for a biased individual to withhold. If based solely on asymmetric racial treatment, the only way such a massive difference in mortality could exist would be from outright murder.
“This extrapolated accusation is why many health care workers take great umbrage with the simple-minded ‘racism’ explanation of those such as Whitmer. Further, physicians are angered as these baseless claims exacerbate distrust by our communities of color causing them to avoid vaccination further imperiling their health.
“I don’t deny that bias exists. We should all look into our own hearts to be sure we are living up to the ideals espoused by the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. to judge by the content of one’s character instead of the color of one’s skin. Claims of implicit bias and forced ‘bias’ training do the exact opposite. It is indifferent to character and places all judgment on skin color.
“That seems pretty biased to me.
“Perhaps a better way to combat the problem of bias is to place less emphasis on skin color and the new, racially-obsessed religious belief of ‘woke’ Marxist theory and instead return to the timeless, racially-blind, classical religious teaching ‘Do onto others as you would have them do onto you,’ (Luke 6:31).”
AnneMarie Schieber (email@example.com) is the managing editor of Health Care News.
Image: Yuya Tamai
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