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Keywords

health disparities; health discrimination; civil rights

Abstract

Health disparities among people of color are persistent and detrimental to the overall wellness of these groups. Discrimination in the provision of health care services is one of the primary causes of health disparities. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s availability as a tool to prevent discrimination and, in turn, disparities among these groups is underdocumented. The legislative intent of Title VI and the historical context of the law have been helpful in its use outside of the health care arena to prevent discrimination. This sheds light on the ways that the law can influence the health care sector to decrease the prevalence of discrimination and improve the health of people of color. The government must make civil rights laws, policies, and procedures unambiguous; it must vigorously utilize its enforcement powers; and it must monitor the health care facilities required to adhere to the law. Additionally, beneficiaries must be educated of their rights and the processes for pursuing action when those rights have been violated. Noncompliance with civil rights laws to the detriment of an often-marginalized population is deplorable. However, Title VI provides a powerful avenue for change.