The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Published on:
  • January 18, 2021

Dear ACLC Members,

Today we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his enduring influence in this world. Believe it or not, Dr. King was an early proponent of value-based care. As a civil rights leader, he recognized how the manifestation of institutional racism creates health inequities and racial disparities in care. Dr. King’s famous quotation regarding injustice in health care, namely, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and inhumane” is a reminder for us all the importance of health equity in value-based care. Every human deserves an equal opportunity to be healthy, and as leaders, we must advocate as such.

As we reflect on the importance of social justice and health equity, I thought it would be important to reference population health research that shows us that the American health care system is not immune to institutional racial discrimination.  

  • African-American patients tend to receive lower-quality health care, including treatments for cancer, HIV, prenatal care, diabetes, and preventive care. 
  • They are also less likely to receive treatment for cardiovascular disease, and they are more likely to have unnecessary limb amputations. 
  • African American men have the worst health outcomes of any major demographic group in the country. 
  • Health disparities also affect African-American women leading to increased death rates from breast cancer, threefold risk of dying during pregnancy, and significantly greater chance of dying needlessly from preventable diseases. 
  • In this current pandemic, communities of color are also being hit disproportionately hard by COVID-19. Nationwide, Black people have died at 6 times the rate of white people.

We must overcome institutional racial discrimination in the health care system. Inequities that result from this system failure lead to poor health outcomes in the African-American community, and the ACLC would like to raise awareness of this issue to our member health care organizations.

In this year, at this time, I also find these words of wisdom from Dr. King particularly meaningful and poignant, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity . . . I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” I absolutely believe that truth and love will prevail. I invite you to believe the same, and then work to make it so.

Warm Regards, 

Eric Weaver, DHA, MHA, FACHE, FACMPE

Executive Director, ACLC