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J Health Polit Policy Law. 2017 Oct;42(5):771-788. doi: 10.1215/03616878-3940423. Epub 2017 Jun 29.

Viewing Health Equity through a Legal Lens: Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Author information

1
George Washington University.

Abstract

Enacted as part of the watershed Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VI prohibits discrimination by federally assisted entities on the basis of race, color, or national origin. Indeed, the law is as broad as federal funding across the full range of programs and services that affect health. Over the years, governmental enforcement efforts have waxed and waned, and private litigants have confronted barriers to directly invoking its protections. But Title VI endures as the formal mechanism by which the nation rejects discrimination within federally funded programs and services. Enforcement efforts confront problems of proof, remedies whose effectiveness may be blunted by underlying residential segregation patterns, and a judiciary closed to legal challenges focusing on discriminatory impact rather than intentional discrimination. But Title VI enforcement has experienced a resurgence, with strategies that seek to use the law as a basic compliance tool across the range of federally assisted programs. This resurgence reflects an enduring commitment to more equitable outcomes in federally funded programs that bear directly on community health, and it stands as a testament to the vital importance of a legal framework designed to move the nation toward greater health equity.

KEYWORDS:

Civil Rights Act; Title VI; health equity

PMID:
28663181
DOI:
10.1215/03616878-3940423
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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