The Partnership for New York City released a report Monday that demonstrated Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
Written with Deloitte, “Toward a Resilient System of Healthcare” calls for greater investment in preventive care measures to address underlying health conditions associated with socioeconomic status.
Black and Hispanic populations in the city accounted for 62% of Covid-19 fatalities even though they represent only 51% of the population, the report showed. In Connecticut and New Jersey, Blacks and Hispanics are 27% and 34% of the respective populations but account for 46% and 47% of Covid-19 fatalities.
The report concluded that the numbers for Black and Hispanic populations are reflective of lower household incomes, a prevalence of underlying health conditions, greater food insecurity and crowded households.
“I think it’s a sad commentary that we have not done a better job, and hopefully this is a moment when we’re going to focus on how we bring equity to the health care system,” said Kathryn Wylde, chief executive of the Partnership for New York City.
Wylde added that she worked in community health care during the late 1960s, when the New York region faced the same disparities in terms of access to preventive care for Blacks and Hispanics.
“The frustration is that this is 50 years old,” she said.
The report highlighted how the health disparities are tied to economic indicators.
The Bronx, which has New York’s largest Hispanic population and a median income of $38,566, had 3.2 deaths per 1,000 people related to Covid-19. In comparison, Westchester County, which has a median income of $94,521, had 1.4 deaths per 1,000.
Other data points the report referenced include the fact that the Bronx and Brooklyn had nearly double the per-capita deaths that Nassau County and Manhattan had. More than 16% of the population in the Bronx and Brooklyn also lack adequate food access.
Further discrepancies examined access to health care coverage and overcrowded homes. Between 8% and 10% of the population in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx does not have health insurance. In Manhattan, 6% of the population lacks health insurance. Brooklyn and the Bronx have overcrowding rates greater than 10%, while Manhattan’s overcrowding rate is less than 6%.
“The point of the report is that it’s not about medical care; it’s about looking at all the elements—environmental, social, economic—that impact health,” Wylde said.
The partnership’s report detailed short-term actions, medium-term actions and long-term actions the city’s health care, political, and business communities can take to spur an augmented recovery.
In the near term, the partnership recommended taking a science-based approach to issuing public health guidelines concerning the coronavirus. It encouraged an independent validation and self-certification program for healthy workplaces, including using gold/silver/bronze standards for HVAC building systems, cleaning and use of elevators. The report also encouraged the city and state to create a more fluid system of online health care delivery to streamline treatment.
In the medium term, in a shift away from the fee-for-service model, the report suggested the city allow for more health care to take place in homes and at community health hubs rather than at hospitals. The report cited the neighborhood health station developed by Blackstone Valley Community Health Care as an example.
In the same vein, the report called for increased public-private partnerships in the sphere of health care, using San Diego’s Project One for All as an example of how nonprofits can pair with local health care providers.
The partnership’s report concluded with a series of long-term actions the city can take to improve its health care delivery system and prepare for future pandemics and other disruptive events. It suggested political leaders and health care interest groups reform Medicaid reimbursement to create incentives for consumers to enroll in preventive care programs built around healthier lifestyle changes.
Blacks and Hispanics have a higher prevalence in underlying conditions such as diabetes and obesity, compared with whites, both nationally and in New York, the report says.
The partnership encouraged anchor institutions with large amounts of capital, like hospitals and investment banks, to invest in areas that have a lack of food access, low health insurance rates and a high percentage of overcrowded affordable homes.
“We have to integrate health and human services systems, both in terms of information data and funding,” Wylde said.