Two physicians, including the New York City health department’s chief medical officer, have proposed racial preferences for Black and “Latinx” patients, in order to address structural inequities.
The proposal came as part of a Boston Review op-ed earlier this month in which Drs. Michelle Morse and Bram Wispelwey – both of whom have worked at a teaching hospital for Harvard University – called for an anti-racist approach to medicine. While they didn’t explicitly call for “discrimination,” they criticized colorblind policies and sought racial preferences in patient admissions.
“After more than five decades of colorblind law … the stubborn persistence of racial inequities – both in health care and across society at large – gives the lie to the effectiveness of colorblind policies,” the doctors wrote.
Wispelwey, who’s identified as an instructor at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and Morse, the chief medical officer at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who’s also identified as a professor at HMS, advanced a reparations framework of “acknowledgment, redress and closure” (ARC).
They went on to advocate integrating critical race theory and anti-racist efforts into medicine, adding that they have already implemented racial preferences in their cardiology service.
“[W]e have taken redress in our particular initiative to mean providing precisely what was denied for at least a decade: a preferential admission option for Black and Latinx heart failure patients to our specialty cardiology service,” they said.
“The Healing ARC [acknowledgment, redress and closure] will include a flag in our electronic medical record and admissions system suggesting that providers admit Black and Latinx heart failure patients to cardiology, rather than rely on provider discretion or patient self-advocacy to determine whether they should go to cardiology or general medicine.”
The op-ed caught attention this week and is likely to pour fuel on an already-raging debate surrounding race in U.S. institutions.
Discovery Institute researcher Chris Rufo, who has spearheaded efforts against critical race theory, told Fox News that what the physicians advocated was a moral crime and unconstitutional.
“The ‘equity’ ideology has permeated all of our elite institutions,” he said on Monday.
“Now medical professionals are setting the conceptual framework to deny medical treatment to Whites in order to achieve ‘non-disparate’ outcomes. This is a moral crime, a violation of the 14th Amendment, and a direct contravention of their oath to ‘do no harm.'”
Mark Murphy, media relations manager for the hospital, told Fox News: “The Brigham is committed to examining and eliminating the many impacts that racism has on the health and wellbeing of our patients.”
Murphy added: “As part of our system’s United Against Racism campaign, we support several initiatives currently underway, including efforts toward improving both the access and the experience of our patients, focusing on community health and advocacy, and increasing the diversity of leadership.”
Fox News previously reported on a coalition Rufo started to bring legal challenges against employers and other actors who utilized critical race theory. The theory, which has popped up in trainings and curricula across the U.S., generally teaches, among other things, that the nation is plagued by institutional racism.
The theory has been promoted by authors like Robin DiAngelo and Ibram Kendi, whose book “How to be an Antiracist,” explicitly justifies racial discrimination as a tool for achieving equity.
In their op-ed, Drs. Wispelwey and Morse, acknowledge the potential for “legal challenges from our system of colorblind law.”
“But given the ample current evidence that our health, judicial and other systems already unfairly preference people who are White, we believe – following the ethical framework of Zack and others – that our approach is corrective and therefore mandated,” they added.
In February, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene touted Morse as its first-ever chief medical officer. She was also tapped to serve as deputy commissioner of the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness.
“Dr. Morse’s experience has combined the best of public health, social medicine, anti-racism education, and activism,” Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi said in a press release.
“Health equity requires leaders who propel change and I am grateful that she has joined the department to help us create a healthier, more equitable, city.”
Bios for Morse and Wispelwey showed they worked as faculty at HMS. HMS did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment, and neither did the New York City Department of Health.
In an auto-reply to Fox News’ email, Morse said she was “no longer serving in any formal roles at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.” Wispelwey did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
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