George Floyd’s death last May focused a powerful klieg light on racial injustice in the U.S. Nonprofits were again confronting questions about equity and inclusion for the communities they serve.

At the Washington, DC-based National Health Council (NHC), those questions surfaced quickly. For years, the century-old nonprofit, now with more than 140 members, such as the American Heart Association and National Alliance on Mental Illness, focused on fairness, equity, civil rights, and ensuring patient voices are heard in the health care system. Floyd’s death coalesced those issues and racism almost simultaneously at a June board meeting.

“Our board pushed us, about what we, as leaders in the patient community, could do. That was not an easy question,” says Jennifer Dexter, NHC policy director. “We were having conversations in our health ecosystem that were simmering beneath the surface for a long time. It gave people the space to have hard conversations.”

Spurred by the moment the 46-year-old Black father of two girls stopped breathing and acknowledging the modern U.S. health care system took root during the 1940s and 1950s when racial segregation and other forms of discrimination were legal, those conversations led to this: A collaborative effort among NHC members to ensure that equity is centered in the 21st-century health care ecosystem so that everyone can lead safe, productive lives.

For NHC and its members, equity includes race as well as gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, and age. The ecosystem includes caregivers, insurers, government policymakers, health care providers, health systems, employers, and communities in an increasingly diverse country.

By September, NHC and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF), a nonprofit partner and NHC member working to improve quality care for all Americans, held a virtual roundtable discussion to listen to ideas and make headway. Participants, Dexter says, discussed structural barriers and the vital role patient voice plays in advocacy and effecting change.

Read the full article about health policy and equity by Brad Wong at Independent Sector.