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The Great Divide
It's been more than a decade since Congress first officially acknowledged that this country has a problem with race and health. In 1999 the government asked the Institute of Medicine—an independent nonprofit whose reports are the gold standard for health-care policymakers—to investigate disparities in health and health care among racial and ethnic minorities. The results were damning: the ensuing study, called Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, found that minorities had poorer health and were consistently getting lower-quality care even when factors such as insurance status and income weren't involved. They were less likely to get lifesaving heart medications, bypass surgery, dialysis, or kidney transplants. They were more likely to get their feet and legs amputated as a treatment for late-stage diabetes. Clearly, something needed to be done.