Diane Cohen

New health care law forces affirmative action on medical schools

Posted on September 22, 2010 | Author: Diane Cohen
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President Barack Obama’s new health care law doesn’t just radically transform our nation’s medical system; it contains provisions that require discrimination on the basis of race.

It starts at page 516 of the more than 2,000 page law, in a section that allows the Obama administration to give grants and contracts to training hospitals and medical schools. In awarding this federal money, the law requires the administration to give preferences to hospitals and schools based on the racial makeup of their student body. Moreover, hospitals and schools who receive these federal funds must engage in race-based student recruitment as well.

In several letters to Congress, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission called on Congress to reject these discriminatory provisions and consider “proven methods of improving health care outcomes.” But the Civil Rights Commission said forcing medical schools to use race-based admissions policies assumes differences in the health of people from different races are caused by a shortage of doctors from those races. This misdiagnoses the problem, the Commission said, pointing to studies that show health care disparities do not result from a lack of medical professionals of particular races.

Further, the Commission stressed that congressionally-mandated affirmative action is likely to be thrown out as unconstitutional.

Certainly, attracting talented people to medicine is a worthy goal. But individuals should not be singled out and given special benefits based on their race to reach that goal. Likewise, the Obama administration should not force hospitals and schools to recruit students based on race to obtain federal money. 

There is something we can do right here in Arizona to ensure equal treatment under the law. The Goldwater Institute is working in federal court to strike down the entire health care bill. Also, Arizona voters will consider Proposition 107 during the Nov. 2 general election. Called the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, Prop. 107 offers an amendment to the state constitution that forbids race-based policies for any taxpayer-funded agency or program. The citizens of Arizona have the power to say “yes” to equal opportunity for all Arizonans, and “no” to unfair and unlawful policies that focus on anyone’s race or ethnic background.

Diane Cohen is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.

Learn More:

Goldwater Institute: Coons v. Geithner

Proposition 107: The Arizona Civil Rights Initiative

U.S. Civil Rights Commission: Letters to Congress

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