Legislators in Washington, DC are taking a closer look at racial bias in health care algorithms after an October analysis found racial bias in a commonly used health tool. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) released letters on Tuesday calling for federal agencies and discussing the medical algorithms they use every day for signs of racial bias.
"Unfortunately, both the people who design these complex systems, and the massive sets of data that are used, have many historical and human biases built in," they wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The senators' focus for their letters what mostly on gathering information. They wanted to know if the CMS, which administers Medicare and Medicaid, is based on their use of algorithms. They asked the Federal Trade Commission if they were investigating harms by discriminatory algorithms on consumer and health companies, including Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield.