Racial treatment disparities persist at VA

Although the Veterans Affairs healthcare system has improved since it was overhauled in the 1990s, a new study concludes treatment disparities between white and black patients still persist, reports Kaiser Health News.

The study, published in the current edition of Health Affairs, concluded "that the quality of care improved for both white and black VA enrollees from 2000 to 2009," but that "racial disparities were substantial and persistent."

Most of the disparities were not systemwide, but varied between VA facilities.

The disparities were specifically regarding control of glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as blood pressure, with performance gaps ranging between 6 percent and 9 percent. All are linked to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or hypertension, which all contribute to racial disparities in life spans.

According to the study's authors, their data "underscore the urgency of focused efforts to improve intermediate outcomes among African Americans in the VA and other settings."

For more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article
- read the Health Affairs abstract