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Unequal Treatment at 20: Accelerating Progress toward Health Care Equity

In 2003, the National Academies Press published a landmark report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, that shocked many policymakers and the medical establishment with its finding that racial and ethnic disparities in the quality of care are “remarkably consistent,” even after controlling for access-related factors, such as income and insurance status. Despite the national attention this report received, the nation has made little progress toward eliminating health care inequities in the 20 years since the report was published.

As the 20th anniversary of Unequal Treatment approaches, the Urban Institute is launching a new program of action to elevate health care inequities as a national priority and build momentum for key remedies and structural reforms. To kick-off the initiative, we invite you to join us for a full-day symposium designed to bring together policymakers, researchers, health care administrators and professionals, and other interested parties. The symposium will  

  • make evidence of the causes and consequences of health care inequities more accessible to patients, health care consumers, health care industry leaders, and policymakers;
  • identify the most promising research and policy strategies that have emerged in the 20 years since Unequal Treatment’s publication;
  • allow interested parties to collaborate to develop tools and mechanisms to hold practitioners and policymakers accountable, particularly at the state level, where key opportunities exist to establish equity-focused strategies; and
  • elevate the voices of patients from marginalized communities and a new generation of scholars of color whose perspectives must be centered in identifying research questions and solutions.
  Event Agenda 

Recording of sessions linked in titles 

9:00 a.m.  Welcome and Opening Remarks

  • Kimberlyn Leary, Senior Vice President, Urban Institute 
  • Xavier Becerra, Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services
  • Richard E. Besser, President and Chief Executive Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 
  • Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Equity and Health Policy Professor Emerita, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kimá Joy Taylor, Nonresident Fellow, Health Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Brian Smedley, Equity Scholar and Senior Fellow, Health Policy Center, Urban Institute

10:00 a.m. Keynote 

  • David R. Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health; Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology, Harvard University

10:30 a.m. Welcome from Commonwealth Fund

  • Joseph R. Betancourt, President, The Commonwealth Fund

10:40 a.m. Payment Reform: How can payment reform work to eliminate inequities? How can we direct resources where needed? 

  • Charmaine Bartholomew, Vice President Quality Risk Adjustment and Health Equity, North Carolina Blue Cross/Blue Shield
  • Marshall Chin, Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Healthcare Ethics, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago
  • Mai Pham, President, Institute for Exceptional Care
  • Carla Willis, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute
  • Damon Francis, Medical Director, Homeless Health Center Alameda Health System; Chief Medical Officer, Health Leads; Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco (moderator)

11:50 a.m. Lunch Break

12:30 p.m. Keynote

  • Tony Iton, Lecturer of Health Policy and Management and Senior Vice President for Healthy Communities, The California Endowment

1:00 p.m. Technology-Pros/Cons, Challenges/Opportunities for Advancing Equity 

  • Sinsi Hernandez-Cancio, Vice President for Health Justice, National Partnership for Women and Families
  • Ameina Mosley, Manager of Community Organizing, Vital CXNs
  • Carolina Reyes, Associate Physician, Maternal Fetal Medicine, UC Davis Medical Center
  • Anna Zink, Principal Researcher, Chicago Booth's Center for Applied AI
  • Joseph R. Betancourt, President, The Commonwealth Fund (moderator)

2:15 p.m. Break 

2:30 p.m. Political and Legal Determinants of Health and the Current Backlash Against Equity – How Can We Move the Pendulum Forward? 

  • Juliet K. Choi, President and CEO, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
  • Dayna Bowen Matthew, Dean and Harold H. Greene Professor of Law, The George Washington University Law School
  • Margaret Moss, Professor and Director, First Nations House of Learning
  • Tom Saenz, President and General Counsel, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
  • Daniel Dawes, Senior Vice President, Global Health & Executive Director, Institute of Global Health Equity at Meharry Medical College (moderator)

3:40 p.m. Closing Keynote 

  • Oxiris Barbot, President and Chief Executive Officer, United Hospital Fund

4:20 p.m. Importance of Accountability

  • Robert Otto Valdez,  Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 

4:35 p.m. Closing Poem 

  • Kimá Joy Taylor, Nonresident Fellow, Health Policy Center, Urban Institute

4:40 p.m. Concluding Remarks

  • Faith Mitchell, Institute Fellow, Health Policy Center, Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy

5:00 p.m. Networking Reception 


Funding for this event was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Commonwealth Fund. Additional funding for the Unequal Treatment at 20 initiative provided by Episcopal Health Foundation and California Health Care Foundation.  For more on Urban’s funding policies, go to

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, including one booster shot, is required to attend this event in-person. Please be prepared to show proof of your vaccinations upon arrival. Masking may be required.

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.  


Date & Time Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Urban Institute 500 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington , DC , 20024-2131
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Urban Institute Speakers
  • Executive Vice President
  • Institute Fellow
  • Senior Fellow
  • Nonresident Fellow