Health Care Equity for Underserved Communities
with Kevin Kimble, Esq. of the Southern Christian Leadership Global Policy Initiative
Marginalized communities experience higher rates of poor health and are less likely to receive quality health care.
Kevin Kimble, Esq., Executive Director of the Southern Christian Leadership Global Policy Initiative, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss efforts to improve equity in the nation’s health care system.
July 31, 2023
Anderson: Health disparities in the U.S. continue to leave Black and brown people at a disadvantage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 6 in 10 uninsured Americans are people of color. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. In April of 2023, the Health Equity Collaborative, on behalf of 50 national diverse organizations within health care, public health, patient advocacy, and civil rights organizations, sent an open letter. It went to the Biden administration and the 118th Congress, outlining guidelines for advancing health equity. Joining me to talk about efforts to increase equity in health care and health outcomes for people of color is Kevin Kimble. He is the executive director of the Southern Christian Leadership Global Policy Initiative. And, Kevin, thank you so much for being here.
Kimble: Thank you for having me.
Anderson: So what are some of the top disparities and top health issues that communities of color are facing?
Kimble: You know, I wish I could delineate just a few. They're everywhere. So you start out with disease mortality, disease occurrence. You know, African Americans, particularly, cover the whole gamut of that. We're number one in almost every -- from cancer deaths to diabetes to heart disease. Then you look at access to care. We're at the bottom of that list. So there's fewer pharmacies in our communities. Adherence to drug protocols are harder for our communities. We have less traffic. We're in more segregated communities. So it's, no matter where you look in the health-care space, African-Americans particularly, but all people of color are at the bottom of the list.
Anderson: So why are these health-care disparities, these disparities in care, so hard to correct?
Kimble: I think first you start with the economic incentive. So everyone is incentivized to make as much money as they can on the system without necessarily providing all the care. So if you're a poor person, you don't get the best drugs, you don't get access. Again, you go to the doctor later because the health-care facilities aren't in your community. Sometimes people have to drive two or three hours to get to a good doctor. And so those things all play in to how much you get to do.
Anderson: So why is SCL-GPI so specially positioned to really lead this effort?
Kimble: I think for a couple of reasons. One, we are a civil rights group and we're not focused on any one industry or entity, so we don't have those vested interests. The other thing is we're on the ground in a lot of communities, so we have chapters all over the country. We see or hear from people what's going on with them, right? And so we're trying to help that filter back up. A lot of what happens at the legislative level doesn't make it down. I'll give you an aside tangentially related. The government has free broadband for poor people, right? So it's incredibly hard to get. If you are in a housing authority, you should automatically be eligible for free broadband, but that doesn't happen. So all the changes from PBMs -- pharmacy benefit managers -- to other programs that were designed to help bring drug costs down, none of that's actually reaching the people on the ground. And we're able to raise that profile to people because people in Congress or people in the legislature don't know.
Anderson: How important would you say that open letter to the administration and Congress is? I mean, what were you asking and what do you realistically expect to get?
Kimble: Well, so as we discussed in our Minority Policy Summit in February of 2023, the goal of this letter was to raise the profile of these issues and remind people that there are lives at the end of each one of these data points. You know, the tragic death for the track star recently and the Serena Williams history with maternal health issues remind us that we have to keep our policymakers on board. And this letter gives them a guideline, lets them understand what's possible and what people are looking at because they don't always know. Unfortunately, they get lobbied by the business interests who have their own interests, and we have the interests of the people at heart, and that's what we try to keep people focused on.
Anderson: The Health Equity and Accountability Act was created by two Democrats. What will it take to make it appealing across both sides of the aisle, in your mind?
Kimble: You know, we'll have to convince those on the other side of the aisle who aren't necessarily driven by social justice that, from an economic standpoint, it's important for the country for health to be transcendent. Everyone needs to be able to see a doctor. You know, we're aging as a country, right? Where everyone talks about all these unfilled jobs, there's a shortage of workers, well, if we aren't taking care of the health care of our people, how are we going to compete economically worldwide?
Anderson: People are gonna have questions, Kevin. What's your website? Where can they look?
Anderson: Kevin Kimble with SCL-GPI. Thank you so much for being here.
Kimble: Thank you, Tetiana.
Anderson: And thanks to you as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the country, log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.