Happy New Year!
I was recently asked about my top wish for 2021, and this is it:
The past year brought wider awareness of how deadly racism can be and the ways it has shaped and segmented our society. My wish for 2021 is that our state and nation will commit to acting upon this knowledge and truly work to acknowledge and address the impact of racism, especially the impact on health.
So what does that mean?
There are many possible answers. For those of us focused on health, it means recognizing that we must focus on patient outcomes and we must ensure there is data to identify gaps in outcomes by race and ethnicity. It means recognizing that we live in a society that was shaped by policies designed to treat people differently – so new policies that do not take those inequities into account cannot produce the fairest possible outcomes. It includes looking for opportunities to improve both access to care and care delivery, as well as to address the many things outside health care that influence our ability to be healthy.
At the foundation, we plan to continue working to address the impact of the pandemic, as well as move forward some of our more long-term strategic initiatives. This includes:
- Assuring that equity is the lens through which health policies and practices are developed.
- Supporting community voices in raising up issues related to the pandemic and response, through a collaborative that can inform state agency leaders and health systems.
- Working to find coverage solutions for those who remain uninsured, particularly those with incomes just above the Medicaid threshold and undocumented residents.
- Supporting work to incorporate community health workers into the health care system and assuring they can be sustainably funded.
- Identifying ways to better collect and analyze data on race and ethnicity in health care, to ensure racial and ethnic health disparities are identified and addressed.
The COVID-19 vaccine brings us great hope that we could have a solution to address this pandemic. That said, we know there is much work to be done to ensure that as many people as possible will get it. This requires assuring there are plans for equitable distribution and making sure that anyone who has questions has the opportunity to ask them and become well-informed about the vaccine. Our work for 2021 includes continuing to support trusted community messengers in communities of color.
We hope to build on the recognition of the deep racial and ethnic health disparities that exist and welcome partners in the quest to eliminate them and create a healthier Connecticut for everyone.