Cydney McGuire, an assistant professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, has proposed a racism-conscious framework that can be used to develop new health policies or redesign existing policies that address racism and advance health equity.
In the article “Proposing A Racism-Conscious Approach To Policy Making And Health Care Practices,” published in the journal Health Affairs, McGuire and University of Minnesota colleague Shekinah Fashaw-Walters argue that race-neutral policies overlook the role of racism in policies and disparities while also contributing to inequity. Race-based policies, however, can be politically infeasible. A racism-conscious approach, however, could help develop better, more equitable policies that also stand a chance of being implemented.
“Designing policies to account for racism is exceedingly important to achieving health equity and eliminating the structural barriers that give rise to and maintain the social, political, and economic limitations imposed on minoritized groups in America,” McGuire said. “In our manuscript, we walk through an example focusing on racialized inequities and access to high-quality home health for Medicaid patients and consider how policies can be revised to incentivize higher quality care for racially minoritized patients.”
McGuire and her colleague conceptualize three types of race-related policies and practices, including race-neutral, race-based, and racism-conscious approaches, while also laying out five key steps to creating racism-conscious approaches. Racism-conscious approaches could be more politically feasible because they don’t focus on race but instead on manifestations of racism.
Beyond focusing on racism in health care, the approach can be used in a variety of areas.
“This framework can also be expanded to apply to broader social policies beyond health to create socially conscious policies,” McGuire said. “We hope this framework can help policy makers at multiple levels craft racism-conscious health policies that can advance health equity in a politically feasible way.”