Dear Governor Beshear,
The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have brought into grim focus the social injustices people of color face. I hope these horrible deaths are remembered and continue to serve as a catalyst for change in policing, and a springboard for additional policies that bring an end to systematic racism within our society.
As a cardiologist, Founder and the volunteer medical director for the Have a Heart Clinic, a non-profit cardiology clinic in Louisville that serves the un- and underinsured population, I see another, equally deadly form of social injustice that is plaguing our city and country: the vast differences between white and black individuals when it comes to having health insurance and contracting cardiovascular disease. The fact is, African Americans are about 30% more likely to be uninsured and 50% more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than comparable white audiences. By any standard in the western world, these numbers are appalling as they translate into a painful cost in lives that need not be, and they indicate systematic racism within our healthcare system.
This must change. The barriers people of color face to receive healthcare are too steep. The incidence of heart disease among African Americans is too far out of line with their white counterparts. The healthcare system is broken if it can’t serve all equally.
I ask that our city and state officials address the issue of healthcare inequity. Lack of healthcare options and heart disease is every bit as fatal to people of color as racially motivated violence. The difference is, it lacks visibility outside African American and Hispanic communities as it is unseen by the general public and undocumented by the media.
Dr. Michael Imburgia