Healthcare and the Politics of Race

  • M. Gregg Bloche


Straw men are large players in the debate over racial disparity in American medicine. Most have been deployed by the disparities-denying right, but progressives intent on “outing” racism have sent forth their share. In this chapter, I devote some effort to flushing them out. But my larger aim is to understand the competing moral premises that drive the politics of healthcare disparity. At the bottom, I contend, arguments about the scope of disparity and discrimination in medical care are disputes about the appropriate scope of personal responsibility for life circumstances. Further research into the factors that correlate with racial differences in healthcare can shed light on the circumstances that bring about these differences. But whether these circumstances, once understood, should be deemed acceptable is a moral and political matter. Sharp disagreements over the scope of personal and public responsibility for these circumstances are inevitable. These disagreements make it harder to pursue common ground solutions to racial and other inequities in healthcare.


Racial Disparity Racial Bias Differential Cost Minority Group Member Healthcare Disparity 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Gregg Bloche
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Georgetown UniversityGeorgetown
  2. 2.The Brookings InstitutionUSA
  3. 3.Bloomberg School of Public HealthJohns Hopkins UniversityWashington, D.C.

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