Addressing racial health inequities includes addressing the minimum wage

By Kashmira S. Chawla, Nancy Oriol and Ashley O’Donoghue for The Hill April 18, 2021

Over the past year, we have witnessed the national outcry against our “race-based caste system,” the frailty of our social safety nets and economic precarity disproportionately affecting communities of color. This stems from barriers rooted in poverty and discrimination with downstream collateral of inaccessible housing, education, transportation, healthcare and job security with paid sick leave and a living wage. It is well established that poverty and low-income status are associated with worse health status and outcomes.

Currently, there is a feverish inward focus on increasing inclusion, representation and research to challenge structural racism within healthcare systems. However, empowering patients entangled in this complex web of racially-driven societal structures and intergenerational poverty cannot be achieved with insulated healthcare initiatives and policy changes. One of the ways to do this is to support federal policy that affects one of the tenet social determinants of health: a living minimum wage.