WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - COVID-19 continues to hit minority communities at the highest rates, according to the latest data from the CDC.

Norma Poll-Hunter from the Association of American Medical Colleges said that racial inequity impacts many areas of health, but more diverse doctors in the field could help to change that.

“Patients are more satisfied when they have what we call racial concordance, when there is that connection,” Poll-Hunter said.

The AAMC’s 2021 report shows racial diversity among medical residents is up from 2020, but less than 15% of residents identify as Black or Latino.

Poll-Hunter said poor public education and financial inequality are the two major barriers minority students often face.

Now, members of Congress and the private sector are aiming to address the racial gap by helping young medical professionals overcome the economic barriers of higher education.

In its 2022 diversity plan, the healthcare company Abbott plans to include more than $5 million in scholarships for four HBCU schools including the Morehouse School of Medicine and Meharry Medical College.

“You pour in money at an early stage such that these individuals get the support and training needed to get to that next step,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones-McMeans, the Divisional Vice President of Global Clinical Affairs at Abbott.

And in Washington, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) reintroduced a bill that would authorize grants for programs in medically underserved communities.

“We can deal with shortages that existed before the pandemic, but that are only getting more intense during the pandemic,” said Sen. Kaine.

The legislation is now under review in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

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