Health Care Disparities

Focusing on Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) that address disparities is an essential step towards quality health care for all. Through the Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Care Award program, NCQA sought to provide a forum for shared learning to explore strategies to tie cultural awareness into existing quality improvement efforts.

This award program was informed by NCQA’s earlier work (2004-2005) funded by The California Endowment to investigate the feasibility for health plans to develop and implement culturally and linguistically appropriate care and to monitor health care disparities among managed care populations. From 2006-2009, the awards highlighted and recognized health plans for their exemplary efforts and demonstrated effectiveness in promoting cultural competence and addressing the health care needs of diverse members.

The awards also helped support the development of NCQA’s Standards and Guidelines for Distinction in Multicultural Health Care..

Little progress has been made to close the gaps in the quality of health care delivered to racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities. Recent legislation invests in cultural and linguistic competence and the elimination of disparities, with increased funding for technical assistance, research and dissemination. Now is the time to identify opportunities to reduce disparities. Here, we examined and catalogued national efforts, and we describe activities and their funding, focus, target audience, scope and impact. We also identify opportunities for greater progress and potential influence, including provisions in recent health reform bills.

Click here to view NCQA's National Scan of CLAS and Disparities Reduction Activities.
Funded by The California Endowment, Supported by CMS and The Office of Minority Health.               



For More Information

Email with questions or comments.

A Quality Improvement Guide

The free toolkit, developed by NCQA in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company, is a resource for health care organizations wanting to undertake quality improvement initiatives to improve culturally and linguistically appropriate services and to reduce disparities in care.