Excerpted From: Chelsea J. Gaudet, Healthcare Reparations in California, 60 San Diego Law Review 569 (August-September, 2023) (97 Footnotes) (Full Document)


NoPictureFemaleThe Reparations Task Force has recommended several key areas in which the state of California can offer reparations for its systemic abuse of African Americans. The Interim Report issued by the Task Force highlights the discrepancy in health outcomes for White Californians versus Black Californians and attributes the difference not just to inequitable access, but also to a special compounding effect of physical and mental stress suffered solely by Black Californians as a result of systemic and personal environmental racial discrimination.

This Essay discusses the unique aspects of “weathering” and the insidious effect of racial bias in research meant to study and treat it. The solution must address the physical ramifications of the intergenerational impacts of slavery and racial discrimination on today's Californians as recompense for the state's perpetuation of the atrocities.

However, effective treatment for weathering cannot proceed without dramatic and immediate changes to the way it is studied. A lack of objectivity has hidden a defect in medical science that precludes effective study. The solution posed here takes into account the need to not only compensate individuals for present-day physical and mental harm but to change the foundational structure that creates and maintains healthcare inequity for Black Californians. This foundational change will not only increase access to healthcare, but it will also yield exponentially beneficial clinical data gathered using race-conscious techniques from which a newly formed leadership can direct process improvement in diagnosis and treatment.

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The effects of slavery and Jim Crow have manifested into a deadly combination of special medical and mental health issues that shorten Black lives. State funding and participation by California's Department of Public Health to establish research clinics dedicated to performing a root cause analysis of the physical and mental health manifestations of racial discrimination and the lingering effect of slavery on Black Californians would be an acknowledgment of the urgency, importance, and complexity of the issue and of the culpability of these institutions in its conception and continued existence. For California to take meaningful action in the way of an apology, the benefits to the Black community need to be more than a gap-filler. The Interim Report's findings illustrate a glaring defect in the practice of medical science that makes it clear that a complete audit and failure analysis is long overdue in our healthcare systems. It is time for the State of California to put its money where its mouth is and address the problem of racial bias in healthcare instead of working around it.

Chelsea J. Gaudet. J.D. 2023, Louisiana State University Paul M. Herbert Law Center. Visiting Student, 2022-2023, University of San Diego School of Law.