DeSantis administration removes ‘equity’ from Florida healthcare priorities

Ron DeSantis, Joseph A. Ladapo
Florida Surgeon Gen. Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, left, speaks at a news conference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

DeSantis administration removes ‘equity’ from Florida healthcare priorities

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The state of Florida no longer outlines health equity as its top priority, instead rating Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia as its chief healthcare concerns for the next five years.

The Florida Department of Health’s list of 2022-2026 goals and objectives has no references to “health equity,” as Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo tells the Tampa Bay Times that the term has become political and has become counterproductive to addressing healthcare.

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“It’s an imprecise term,” Ladapo told the outlet. “It’s a term that really has grown to have more of a political meaning than a meaning related to health. But it’s the State Health Improvement Plan. So we will focus on health.”

The 2017-2021 plan put its No. 1 priority as “health equity,” arguing it “provides the foundation for success” for other healthcare priorities.

“Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people and requires focusing on avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities. It provides the foundation for success in all the other health-issue priorities,” the 2017-2021 objectives report indicated.

In discussing objectives in combating Alzheimer’s disease, the plan does outline how the disease affects different groups of people in different ways, but it refrained from using the term “equity.”

“It is the most common cause of dementia among adults aged 65 years and older. Previous studies have shown that African Americans are about twice as likely and Hispanics are about one and a half times as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias compared to older White Americans. Women are also at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s than men,” the document read.

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Since taking office in 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) has fought against initiatives that are labeled as being part of “diversity, equity, and inclusion,” arguing many of the programs, including on school campuses, discriminate against certain groups.

While “health equity” tends to differ from diversity, equity, and inclusion, the term “equity” has become more closely associated with DEI initiatives in recent years.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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