By DAILY NEWS EDITORIAL BOARD
JAN 30, 2020 | 4:05 AM
Keep funding a vital resource in producing doctors who look like America. (shironosov/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Sebastian Placide, a Haitian-American from Brooklyn who is finishing up at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, may never have made it through med school but for the help he got from a small but important state grant program. Diversity in Medicine gives Black and Latino students, who are 31% of the national population but just 12% of M.D.s, a post-baccalaureate year of science education and mentoring to better prepare them for medical school.
Diversifying the medical profession isn’t only a worthy end in itself; it helps improve health outcomes for patients. The state program, which has graduated more than 500 practicing physicians over nearly three decades on the books, costs just $1.24 million annually; that’s 0.02% of Albany’s $6.1 billion budget hole.
Gov. Cuomo’s executive budget proposal would eliminate all its funding.
Under Cuomo’s blueprint, the ax would also fall on all recipients of grants from the Empire Clinical Research Program, which is underwriting studies to curb opioid addiction, improve kidney transplants, improve outcomes from bladder cancer and more. Researchers, who are in the first year of two-year projects, got emails Friday notifying them of their imminent defunding.
Even if you can defend the wisdom of zeroing out a potentially life-saving, drop-in-the-bucket initiative — it costs $3.4 million, or 0.06% of the budget deficit — at a time when federal funding for biomedical research is declining relative to America’s G.D.P., it is cruel and counterproductive to do so halfway into a two-year commitment.
The state budget needs balancing. But not this way.