VII. Conclusion

      African Americans have been struggling for equality for almost five hundred years. Illustrative of the never-ending struggles of African Americans to obtain equality is the failure of African Americans to access quality health care regardless of their gender, education, or socioeconomic status. The United States health care system has been plagued by racial discrimination since its creation, resulting in significant failures in providing quality care to minority populations. Decades of empirical data and government reports show that elderly African Americans have a higher mortality rate, morbidity (disability) rate, and less access to health care. The federal government intervened on behalf of African Americans to rectify this injustice of racial inequality in health care by enacting Title VI, but seemingly became content in funding studies showing the existence of racial discrimination in nursing homes, and its sponsorship of these nursing homes that racially discriminate. This sponsorship entails funding of nursing homes that racially discriminate, underfunding the agency responsible for combating discrimination in nursing homes, and barring private parties from suing to prevent the discrimination allowed by the government. The literature establishes that some nursing homes continue to racially discriminate by delaying elderly African Americans access to quality nursing home care. Nursing homes delay transfer and deny admission of elderly African Americans to quality facilities based solely on the criterion of race. Such discriminatory practices on the basis of race continue in clear contravention of Title VI, the federal statute passed forty-two years ago that prohibits racial discrimination by health facilities that receive federal funding.

      The failure of OCR, charged with enforcing Title VI, to prevent racial discrimination and segregation, has caused elderly African Americans to be relegated to substandard nursing homes. Even when *496 brought to the attention of nursing home administrators and state and federal regulators there has been no change. Given the regulation and enforcement mechanisms established under Title VI explicitly aimed at remedying racial discrimination, such as that directed at elderly African Americans, it is unbelievable that these practices continue. Thus, one must ask whether the protections offered by Title VI are more illusory than real in the health care industry. Based on a review of the empirical data and governmental action in this area, the answer seems to be that Title VI offers little more protection against racial discrimination than a broken umbrella during a hurricane.

      To solve this problem, elderly African Americans and their advocates must seek innovative methods to put an end to racial discrimination in health care. This paper proposes a three-faceted option using the Medicaid Act, the Fair Housing Act, and CERD. By using these solutions, elderly African Americans and their advocates can build on the success of earlier Medicaid quality and Fair Housing Act cases, and put international pressures on the United States to address its embarrassing unsolved racial problems. Whether used separately or used in concert, these solutions provide a way to induce the government to make African Americans' dream of equality a reality.



Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago School of Law.