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Impact Fund for Reporting on Health Equity and Health Systems

The USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism launched a new Impact Fund for Reporting on Health Equity and Health Systems in 2022.  This fund provided reporting grants of $2,000-$10,000 and five months of mentoring by veteran journalists to five to eight competitively chosen journalists from around the country. The Fund supports ambitious investigative or explanatory projects on systemic racism in health care policy and practice and inequity in treatment, patient experience and health outcomes for Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color.

Click here for a list of the grantees and summaries of the reporting projects they are working on.

Grantees benefit from monthly online trainings focused on the interplay between health systems and health equity and participate in monthly brainstorming sessions with other participating reporters.
 
Nearly 20 years after its publication, the Institute of Medicine’s “Unequal Treatment” remains the definitive work on the link between health systems and health disparities. Its panel of scientists and doctors concluded that Black, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander patients are less likely than White patients to receive the same quality of heath care, even when similarly insured.  Many of the institutional barriers to quality care remain unchanged yet there has been a greater awareness of the role of systemic racism in shaping health outcomes.

Healthcare providers’ biases – conscious or unconscious –  can interfere with treatment and contribute to inadequate care. And, toxic stress caused by experiences of systemic racism in daily life also can contribute to worse health outcomes. There are other barriers as well that hit communities of color disproportionately. Black Americans are still less likely than White Americans to have private health insurance, and when they do, they are more likely to face higher co-pays or limits on services. Communities with predominant populations of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders often have shortages of doctors, creating another barrier to obtaining timely and consistent care.  Lack of transportation and inflexible work schedules make it difficult for low-wage workers to see doctors. Professional interpretation or translation services to patients that don’t speak English –even though required by law – often aren’t provided. 

Journalists can play an important role in highlighting systemic and structural forces and how they impact individuals, families and communities. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, there is a pressing need for journalism that calls attention to chronic inequities and offers up paths for change. The Center for Health Journalism's inaugural Impact Fund grantees are taking advantage of this unique moment of racial reckoning in our country’s history to produce deep reporting with our support. 

The Center asked for proposals for investigative and explanatory explorations of the consequences for people of color and of policy or practice reforms that could lead to more positive outcomes. Each applicant had to propose an ambitious reporting project that would illuminate the role that health systems play in creating or perpetuating racial disparities in reproductive health and maternity care and birth outcomes; cancer prevention and treatment; diabetes, kidney failure and amputations; heart disease prevention and treatment; drug treatment; mental health care; and  more. 

 

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