California’s reparations task force is calling on the state legislature to mandate “anti-bias training” and an evaluation based on that training as graduation requirements for medical schools across the Golden State.
The task force, created by state legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020, formally approved over the weekend his final recommendations to the California Legislature, which will then decide whether to implement the measures and send them to the governor’s desk to act. signed into law.
Much of the public’s attention has focused on the price tag of the proposed reparations: up to $1.2 million for eligible Black Californians as initial “down payments” while they await the declared full amount of the loss of money because of slavery and subsequent racism. calculated.
Economists predicted in a preliminary estimate in March that California’s reparations plan could cost the cash-strapped state more than $800 billion. The task force said at the time that the total did not include compensation for property deemed unjustified or for the reduction in the value of Black-owned businesses.
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However, many aspects of the committee’s recommendations have received little attention, including its proposals regarding health care.
One of the most shocking health-related proposals is to mandate anti-bias training to graduate California medical professionals who study in state-funded programs.
“To address discrimination against African Americans in health care, the task force recommends the legislature add completion of an evidence-based anti-bias training and an assessment based on such training to the graduation requirements of all medical schools and any other medical care provider California programs that receive state funding and are not yet covered, including mental health professional programs (psychologists, Ph. D, or Psy.D), master’s-level programs in psychology or therapy (for counselors, clinicians, and therapists), and programs for clinical social workers,” the committee said in its proposal. .
The reparations plan also calls for similar training and testing to become “graduation requirements at all California dental schools receiving state funding” and “requirements for California Dental Board licensure for those licensed dentists and registered dental assistants.”
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Meanwhile, the task force is pushing another controversial measure that could face legislative backlash: a universal, single-payer health care system as a way to achieve health “equity” for of Black residents.
“The task force recommends closing health coverage gaps by adopting a comprehensive universal single-payer health care and cost control system in health for the benefit of all African Americans in California, with special consideration for the descendants of persons enslaved in the United States,” the panel’s final draft report said.
It was unclear whether the task force recommended the legislature create a government-run health care system that would provide coverage only to California residents or to everyone in the state. The task force did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Either way, California lawmakers have previously tried and failed to enact a universal health program. The state currently operates Medi-Cal, its own Medicaid program aimed at providing health coverage to people with low incomes and limited ability to pay for their own health care. According to the task force, the state should put more money into the program to “achieve parity” with private health insurers.
“For many African Americans in California who remain on Medi-Cal, the task force also recommends an increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates to achieve parity with private insurance reimbursement rates,” the report said.
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Such measures, according to the task force, are among those necessary for the state of California to pay for slavery and broader anti-Black racism and discrimination.
“Due to discrimination, disempowerment, and neglect of African American patients in health care institutions, African American communities suffer from significant gaps in health care delivery, ” the task force wrote. “The effect is seen in almost all aspects of physical and mental health outcomes.”
California has never allowed slavery in its history, but critics argue that the state still works to support the institution and discriminate in other ways against Black Americans.
The reparations committee argued that the health differences between White and Black Americans were connected to the latter suffering from “constant stress from constant exposure to social and economic disadvantage, leading to a rapid decline in physical health,” increasing inequitable health outcomes “‘cannot be explained by factors such as age, income, or level of education’ – through implicit biases and racism, the system of -health care is treated differently by Black Californians.”
To address what the task force described as systemic racism, the panel recommended the legislature authorize and provide continued funding to a “California Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund” within the California Health Department’s Office of Health Equity, which exists already.
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Under the task force’s plan, the Office of Health Equity will administer an annual $115 million
grant program “to address health disparities, focusing on the social determinants of health.”
The final recommendations of the reparations committee included several additional measures regarding mental and physical health. One such proposal calls for the Office of Health Equity to conduct an annual review of California’s health care laws and policies and to include how to “design and implement outcomes for health care providers.” unresponsive health care and reduce perceived treatment disparities.”
The report states that this recommendation builds on a resolution in the California Senate from 2021 that states, “The legislature declares racism a public health crisis and will actively participate in dismantling racism.”
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A California state bill introduced in 2020 would declare racism a public health crisis and establish the state’s first Commission on Racial Equity. The bill did not pass, but Newsom went ahead to create a Racial Equity Commission in September 2022 via executive order.