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The Social and Political Factors of Health Inequities in the US

The 2003 Unequal Treatment publication by the Institute of Medicine was a revolutionary report that held promise for change. Documenting evidence of pervasive racial and ethnic health inequities in the United States, it highlighted the role of health care institutions in addressing these disparities. Yet, systemic inequities in health care for people of color have remained largely unchanged over the past two decades.

To look back in 40 years and say there has been improvement, we need to comprehend the reasons behind the current state of incomplete progress. Join the authors of The Sociopolitical Context of the Unequal Treatment Report: Then and Now, in discussing promising solutions that decisionmakers, practitioners, and advocates can use to create a more equitable US health system—and to address ongoing challenges to eliminating inequities.



  • Camila Mateo, Primary Care Pediatrician, Martha Eliot and Boston Children’s Hospital
  • Marie V. Plaisime, Research Fellow, FXB Center, Harvard University
  • Brian Smedley, Equity Scholar and Senior Fellow, Health Policy Center and Office of Race and Equity Research, Urban Institute
  • David Williams, Professor of Public Health, African and African American Studies, and Sociology, Harvard University
  • Karishma Furtado, Equity Scholar and Senior Research Associate, Health Policy Center and Office of Race and Equity Research, Urban Institute (moderator)


Unequal Treatment at 20: Accelerating Progress toward Health Care Equity

How do we accelerate progress and catalyze health equity solutions?

This event series features conversations with leading scholars and social changemakers that identify where barriers to equity remain and how we can collectively advance and catalyze new solutions and accelerate progress toward health care equity. Racial and ethnic disparities in health care access, quality, and outcomes persist in the United States, some 20 years after the publication of the Institute of Medicine’s report Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, which outlined steps to advance equity. In a series of virtual dialogues with the authors of papers that explore promising areas of progress and that promote accountability for action, the Urban Institute will explore next-generation health equity strategies that states and the federal government can harness in partnership with the communities they serve.


Support for this series is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, the California Endowment, the Episcopal Health Foundation, and the California Health Care Foundation. For more on Urban’s funding policies, go to

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or have any questions about this event.

Urban Institute Speakers
  • Senior Research Associate
  • Senior Fellow