When is a Change Going to Come?: Separate and Unequal Treatment in Health Care Fifty Years After Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
ON June 19, 1963, when the Civil Rights Act was first introduced, President John F. Kennedy said in a message to Congress:
Events of recent weeks have again underlined how deeply our Negro citizens resent the injustice of being arbitrarily denied equal access to those facilities and accommodations, which are otherwise open to the general public. That is a daily insult, which has no place in a country proud of its heritage-- the heritage of the melting pot, of equal rights, of one nation and one people. No one has been barred on account of his race from fighting or dying for America--there are no ‘white’ or ‘colored’ signs on the foxholes or graveyards of battle. Surely, in 1963, 100 years after emancipation, it should not be necessary for any American citizen to demonstrate in the streets for the opportunity to stop at a hotel, or to eat at a lunch counter in the very *288 department store in which he is shopping, or to enter a motion picture house, on the same terms as any other customer. 2
Enacted in memorial to President Kennedy, the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was a monumental feat. 3 Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the vehicle used by Congress to put an end to racial bias in health care, education, and other areas. 4 One member of Congress noted that Title VI “represented the moral sense of the Nation that there should be racial equality in Federal assistance programs.” 5 In health care, Title VI prohibits health care facilities in receipt of government funding from using racial bias to determine who receives quality health care. 6 It provides both a private right of action and mandates for government enforcement. Section 601 provides private parties with the right to sue health care facilities that use racial bias to prevent their participation or access to benefits under programs funded by federal financial assistance, such as Medicare or Medicaid payments. 7 Section 602 requires the federal government to undertake measures to ensure that health care facilities receiving federal financial assistance do not prevent participation or access to health care benefits based on race. 8 Unfortunately, fifty years after the passage of Title VI, health care in the United States continues to be racially separate and unequal. 9 Thus, one must ask: when is a change going to come?
Yearby, Ruqaiijah A., "When is a Change Going to Come?: Separate and Unequal Treatment in Health Care Fifty Years After Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (2014). All Faculty Scholarship. 85.