How Health Care May Be Affected by the High Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

by | Jul 6, 2023 | Health

Doctors are concerned that a Supreme Court ruling issued June 29 will have far-reaching effects not only on the diversity of doctors and other care providers in training but ultimately also on patient care.

The decision found it is unconstitutional for colleges and universities to use race as a factor in student admissions, which will affect enrollment decisions at public and private educational institutions, including medical schools.

Like other academic institutions, medical schools have long factored race into admission decisions. The schools operated under the principle — and there is considerable evidence they are correct — that a more diverse workforce of doctors does a better job of treating diverse patients.

The “decision demonstrates a lack of understanding of the critical benefits of racial and ethnic diversity in educational settings and a failure to recognize the urgent need to address health inequities,” read a statement from David Skorton, president and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges, and Frank Trinity, its chief legal officer.

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Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion. It held that the admissions programs of defendants Harvard College and the University of North Carolina violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits racial discrimination. The decision overturned decades of legal precedent that had allowed colleges and universities to evaluate prospective students by their race, in addition to factors such as academic records and test scores.

In a dissent, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the court’s three li …

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