The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) is dedicated to eliminating disparities related to cardiovascular disease for all people of color and adheres to the vision that all people regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender should benefit equally from a reduction in the frequency, duration, and impact of diseases of the heart and blood vessels.
The ABC endeavors to be a leading authority for policymakers on issues that impact the practice of and access to cardiovascular care in all populations, including by advocating for initiatives and programs focused on education, prevention, and treatment.
ABC is focused on building strong, effective relationships with varied stakeholders throughout the healthcare community to help advance its advocacy agenda. Collaboration is a pillar of success.
ABC Advocacy Agenda
Addressing Racial Bias in Medicine
Racial bias remains pervasive throughout medicine, influencing medical decision-making, quality of care, and outcomes. The coronavirus pandemic has spotlighted racial and ethnic health care inequities and has, consequently, created an opportunity for a meaningful policy dialogue. Ending racial bias in health care requires:
- eliminating economic and educational disparities;
- enabling access to equitable and quality health care;
- increasing diversity, both of patients and investigators, in clinical trials;
- increasing the pipeline of medical professionals by actively recruiting those who are from disadvantaged racial and socioeconomic backgrounds; and
- reducing influence of implicit bias in clinical decision making.
Fostering a Diverse Health Care Workforce
Diversity in medicine allows patients to connect with their providers on cultural and social levels. Consequently, having more diverse members of our country’s physician and scientific workforce leads to excellence in patient and population outcomes. Minorities represent roughly a third of the overall U.S. population; yet, the vast majority of Black, Hispanic, and Asian American patients do not have physicians who share their race and ethnicity. For the 2019-2020 academic year, 7.4 percent of first-year medical school students were Black — a number that has been stagnant since 1978. Increasing under-represented minority physicians can improve health access and care opportunities for underserved populations.
Increasing Enrollment of Minority Populations in Clinical Trials
The safety and effectiveness of care rely on diversity in clinical trials and the differences discovered in these trials based on race, gender, ethnicity. Lack of diversity in clinical trials is also a significant barrier to developing effective practice guidelines and the clinical algorithms that rely on them. Without diversity in clinical trials research, racial bias at the point of care will persist.
Removing Barriers to Existing and Emerging Technologies to Treat Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke
All patients with cardiovascular disease must have equal access to emerging and existing technologies. Current public and private payer policies create barriers to patient access and contribute to disparities in care, particularly among minority populations. ABC’s goal is to ensure that payment policies for life-saving technologies do not unfairly discriminate against minority populations.
Improving Patient Access and Adherence to Cardiovascular Medical Therapies
Despite advances in medical therapies for treating cardiovascular disease, disparities in access and adherence to these therapies are particularly profound in minority populations. Insurance practices, such as prior authorization, restrictive formularies, and drug substitution, as well as drug costs, create barriers for physicians to deliver evidence-based medicine. Focused research and efforts, with an emphasis on social determinants of health, are also needed for improving the uptake and sustained use of effective cardiovascular therapies and interventions in all communities.
Promoting Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Prevention
Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Fortunately, there are many things people can do to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, including controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and vaping. ABC advocates for disease prevention and public health policies that support individual attainment of healthier lifestyles and behaviors.
Ensuring Health Care Availability, Affordability, and Accessibility
One identifiable outcome predictor for heart disease is health insurance coverage. ABC advocates for health insurance coverage for all Americans and is committed to working alongside policymakers to improve health insurance coverage, as well as timely access to high-quality care, preventive services, medications, and other necessary treatments. Imperatively, health equity for minority, underserved and special needs populations must be improved.