Dr. Willie Underwood, a Buffalo, NY urologist and member of the American Medical Association (AMA) Board of Trustees, says the ongoing political debate over healthcare must include finding a way to make medical care equally available to everyone, regardless of race.
"We need to make sure that the health system works for the rich and the poor," said Dr. Underwood in an interview with Not Fake News. "Your economic status, what you are born into, should not limit your quality of life."
According to Dr. Underwood, black poor people have a life expectancy that is 10 -12 years shorter than whites, and, he says, it appears that the same is true for Hispanics.
"That is wrong and somewhat criminal in a society that is wealthy as ours," Dr. Underwood declared. "These are things we need to address...fair and equitable quality of care."
Dr. Underwood pointed out that health is a an important component of the nation's productivity. "You are only as strong as our weakest link," he said.
Tragically, Dr. Underwood said that in Buffalo there are five zip codes where the mortality rate from disease is 300 percent higher than the rest of Erie county and New York state, and those zip codes, of course are home to majority black residents.
"You have a medical school, a law school, a schnool of public health, business school, a dental school," he said, "yet there is no strategic plan to fix it. These are some of the things we have to address."
Added Dr. Underwood, "We can send people to the moon and probes to mars. We can do whatever we want to do. So we can fix that. As providers, as a healthcare network, we need to be working on it. I think if we do, we will be a stronger nation for it."
Editor's note: The above video includes Dr. Underwood's comments on this topic as expressed in my interview with him, which also includes my notes as that conversation unfolded.