The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequitable outcomes of healthcare in the United States for groups most likely to experience poverty. People of color, LGBTQ+ people, people living in rural areas, people with disabilities and especially those who live under multiple intersecting systems of oppression experience more economic insecurity and poorer health outcomes in myriad ways. The primary reasons: poverty and low-wage work leave many marginalized groups without access to quality healthcare; higher rates of housing and food insecurity expose marginalized groups to greater risks; and profit-driven healthcare incentivizes and rewards health providers for avoiding marginalized communities.
Where are we?
Because of these existing inequities, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession have tragically and predictably impacted marginalized people the most. While acknowledging that the effects are far-reaching, we focus on the following: people of color are disproportionately being infected and dying from COVID-19; rural health infrastructure is unequipped to handle the outbreak; marginalized people are more likely to work essential service jobs, putting them on the frontlines of the pandemic; even during a global pandemic, the Trump administration continues efforts to strip healthcare access from millions of people.
Where are we going?
In addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not enough to seek solutions that will return the country to the status quo before the pandemic. Recognizing the need for both an urgent response and systemic reform, we offer policy recommendations that address the immediate needs for healthcare access, for economic relief, to address the social determinants of health, and to address the long-term need for reform of the U.S. healthcare system.
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