Medical Law Fights Mindset on Minorities

Anne B. Jolis, Gloucester County Times (Woodbury, NJ), Mar. 24

STRATFORD—When white people are diagnosed with diabetes, their doctors tend to prescribe a healthier lifestyle. When black people are diagnosed with the same disease, their doctors hospitalize them.

According to state Sen. Wayne Bryant, this discrepancy happens in about 75 percent of diabetes cases. He said the health care industry is riddled with similar racial, cultural and ethnic inequalities.

On Wednesday, Bryant looked on as Acting Gov. Richard Codey signed Bill S-144 into law at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The bill mandates that all physicians in the state submit to cultural competency training. It applies both to physicians still in training and those who have already received their licenses.

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The bill is the first of its kind to be passed in the nation, though Soto-Green said that Arizona, New York, California and Illinois are considering similar proposals.

But some local physicians question whether the move will target the problem.

“The fact is that these minority groups are underrepresented in employee-based health benefits through the very system that these lawmakers helped to create,” said Dr. Robert Villare, a general surgeon who practices in Paulsboro. Villare is also a member of the Medical Society of New Jersey’s (MSNJ) legislative council. “The problem has nothing to do with physicians’ insensitivity.”

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“This will only add to the already numerous burdensome rules and regulations already imposed on physicians by this state,” said Villare. “It’s strangulating.”

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