Charen falsely claims health care reform "mandate[s] racial and ethnic quotas"


Columnist Mona Charen falsely claimed that the House health care reform bill contains mandated "racial and ethnic quotas for medical schools and other federal contractors." In fact, the bill contains no quota mandates.

Charen falsehood: House bill mandates "racial and ethnic quotas"

From Charen's March 12 syndicated column:

Among the specifications of the House bill that passed last November are several sections that mandate racial and ethnic quotas for medical schools and other federal contractors. As Allan Favish reported in The American Thinker, the bill specifies that the secretary of Health and Human Services, "In awarding grants or contracts under this section ... shall give preference to entities that have a demonstrated record of ... training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds."

This, along with other provisions, is broad enough to cover every medical, nursing, dental school and teaching hospital in the country and guarantees the institutionalization of racial, sex, and ethnic quotas in perpetuity (though the use of the word "underrepresented" before "minority" ensures that the quotas will not apply to Asians or Jews).

The rationale for quotas, insofar as there is one, is that African-Americans and Hispanics have, on average, poorer health than other groups. Liberals assume that these disparities are the result of discrimination or lack of access to health care rather than other factors like poverty, eating habits, heredity, and fitness. If medical and dental schools are required to admit more minority applicants, newly minted minority professionals will tend to those "underserved" populations.

Of course, medical and dental schools have been practicing affirmative action for decades, but they've had trouble recruiting large numbers of minorities. Part of the problem is that African-Americans do not tend to gravitate to math and science (the solution to which is to be found in families and schools). Still, for the past few decades, less-qualified minorities have been offered spots in medical schools, with the result that: 1) Those minority professionals who would have qualified without affirmative action bear a stigma, and 2) less-qualified minorities fail licensing exams at much higher rates than their classmates. Is it a service to the African-American or Hispanic communities to provide physicians and dentists who are less capable than others? Will it improve health outcomes to be treated by less-qualified professionals?

McCaughey falsely suggested that "racial and ethnic preferences" were only criterion for grants. Charen's statement echoes a false suggestion previously advanced by serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey, that only "racial and ethnic preferences" would be used in providing education grants training nurses and creating secondary-school health science programs. [Wall Street Journal op-ed, 11/7/2009]

Bill outlines preferences for federal grants, doesn't mandate quotas

Bill lists several preferences for allocating training grants, including demonstrating a proven track record in training underrepresented minorities. In a July 21, 2009, column, American Thinker's Favish, whose work Charen cited, referenced Section 2213 of the draft House health care bill, which addresses the establishment of "a primary care training and capacity building program consisting of awarding grants and contracts." The section does not mandate quotas; rather, it establishes guidelines that the government "shall give preference to" in awarding the grants, including a proven track record "[t]raining individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds." From the bill:

''(d) PREFERENCE.--In awarding grants or contracts under this section, the Secretary shall give preference to entities that have a demonstrated record of the following:

''(1) Training the greatest percentage, or significantly improving the percentage, of health care professionals who provide primary care.

''(2) Training individuals who are from underrepresented minority groups or disadvantaged backgrounds.

''(3) A high rate of placing graduates in practice settings having the principal focus of serving in underserved areas or populations experiencing health disparities (including serving patients eligible for medical assistance under title XIX of the Social Security Act or for child health assistance under title XXI of such Act or those with special health care needs).

''(4) Supporting teaching programs that address the health care needs of vulnerable populations.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Mona Charen
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