In this six-minute video, University of Pennsylvania researcher Harald Schmidt, PhD, discusses the latest paper he co-authored in the Journal of the American Medical Association. He outlines how the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down affirmative action in higher education may establish the groundwork for similar legal and legislative attacks on diversity and inclusion programs throughout the health care field.

Schmidt, a Senior Fellow at the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI) and Assistant Professor in Perelman School of Medicine’s Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, characterized the justices’ ruling based on a new interpretation of the concept of “race neutrality” as “myopic and twisted.” The Supreme Court based its decision on the Civil Rights Act of 1964–the law originally passed to address the social, educational, financial, and health-related disadvantages systematically suffered by non-white people throughout nearly 400 years of American history.

In the video, Schmidt notes that the higher education ruling will halt the affirmative action programs that are key to recruiting and training more Black doctors. He also warns that the ruling will embolden the political forces now working to roll back anti-discrimination initiatives throughout society to seek legislation or court actions against a wide range of health care diversity and inclusion programs. These include the current measures being taken to have clinical trial cohorts represent the overall racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population, Federal anti-discrimination programs administrated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the use of the scientific tools known as “disadvantage indices” that can serve as proxy measures of structural racism.

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