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Misaligned incentives stunting progress on health equity, panelists say

23 Jun 2022 11:06 AM | Anonymous

 Meaningful progress in addressing health inequities will be difficult without a restructuring in how healthcare is paid for, Rush University Medical Center CEO Dr. Omar Lateef said Wednesday, joining other panelists in citing inadequate funding as a main barrier to increasing access to care. [Health News Illinois 6.23.2022]

“The more you do to decrease inequity, the more money you actually lose as a healthcare institution,” Lateef said during a panel hosted by Health News Illinois in Chicago. “If you go into the neighborhoods that need healthcare the most, you're creating programs that will lose your institution money.”

There’s a growing recognition that long-standing health inequities are something that should be addressed, Lateef said. But, the resources aren’t there yet for sustainable change.

“The reason our society has not accepted it is today it's more lucrative for us as a healthcare system to open clinics in the bougie neighborhoods around Chicago than it is in West Garfield Park, where people need real access to care, 24-hour care, urgent care without turning a card in before you get seen,” he said.

Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, said lawmakers have had numerous conversations with the state on where healthcare funding is directed and plan to keep those up. 

“We’re making small strides in the right direction,” she said. “But, we need to do more and I think everyone will recognize that.”

Department of Healthcare and Family Services Director Theresa Eagleson said it’s time to look “outside the box” to address access gaps that persist across the state, including maybe paying more for services in areas where it’s harder to recruit providers. 

“Things have to change dramatically, and who gets what money has to change, potentially, dramatically to really change those results,” Eagleson said.

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