Florida removes 'equity' from its healthcare priorities

March 25, 2023
Robert Ayers

The Washington Examiner reports that the state of Florida, under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his fellow Republicans, has removed "equity" from the state's healthcare priorities. 

Per the Examiner: 

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.

Every five years, officials in Florida's Department of Health puts forth a list of healthcare goals, which is published to the public. The previous list was published in 2017.

The current and previous lists can be found here.

"Equity" - a healthcare priority?

On the 2017 list, officials in Florida's Department of Health placed "health equity."

What is "health equity"? The 2017 report read:

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.

Not only was "health equity" placed on the list, but it was made "SHIP Priority 1" - in other words, State Health Improvement Plan Priority number one.  It was placed above other health priorities, such as "Maternal & Child Health," "Immunizations & Influenza," "Injury, Safety, & Violence," and so on.

Can you spot the healthcare priority that isn't like the others? The one that doesn't seem to have much to do with "healthcare"?

The "health equity" priority included such goals as to "strengthen the capacity of state and local agencies and other organizations to work collaboratively with communities to reduce disparities in social determinants of health and advance health equity."

It's gone

The new State Health Improvement Plan, which will cover the years 2022 through 2026, removes "health equity" from the state's list of healthcare priorities.

The top five priorities are: "Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias," "Chronic Diseases and Conditions," "Injury, Safety, and Violence," Maternal and Child Health," and "Mental Well-being and Substance Abuse Prevention."

The sixth priority is "Social and Economic Conditions Impacting Health," which sounds a lot like the "health equity" that was placed in the 2017 report.

But, officials make sure not to use the word "equity," and the priority's first goal is not "equity" but "equality of opportunity," namely, to "expand access to high-quality educational opportunities for all across the lifespan." Similarly, the priority's fourth goal is to "enhance opportunities to foster economic vitality and resilience for all people."

It's yet another clear policy shift, away from the leftist "equity" agenda, by DeSantis and his administration.

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