Massachusetts: Health Equity A Priority, Now for ACO

July 12, 2022 · Amy Maciejowski

We’ve been writing a lot on the blog and giving kudos to a number of states who have been prioritizing health equity.

And now, we have another state to spotlight: Massachusetts.

Like many health care payers and providers, the state of Massachusetts is taking a holistic approach to addressing disparities, by prioritizing health equity. Massachusetts is the 10th state in the nation to require NCQA’s Health Equity Accreditation.

Health Equity Accreditation: Not Just for Health Plans

But, it is also the first state to require the Health Equity Accreditation of their Accountable Care Organizations (ACO).

When NCQA enhanced the Health Equity Accreditation program, we expanded the eligibility options to include health plans, managed behavioral health organizations (MBHOs), wellness organizations, population health organizations, health systems, hospital systems, ACOs, practices and hospitals.

Because of our core mission of improving quality care, NCQA believes that there is no quality without equity. Building equity into all our programs led us to take a holistic approach to the entire system of care and make sure there’s a set of standards that could apply to each organization that could impact the population.

Massachusetts did the same. The state released a health equity request for information last year that was meant to inform and strengthen the Medicaid program’s efforts to engage directly on issues related to health equity, such as social risk factor data collection and the reduction of health disparities.

The state of Massachusetts’ mandate to require their Medicaid ACOs to achieve NCQA Health Equity Accreditation is a sign that the state is zeroing in on ways to improve health equity.

Why is this important?

Health equity is essential at all levels of the delivery system.

As Massachusetts continues to fold in its health equity initiatives across the system, it’s important that every touchpoint that is responsible for managing patients has a similar foundational concept of eliminating disparities and focusing on health equity.

We’ll be watching closely as the ACOs in Massachusetts utilize Accreditation to enhance their health equity efforts.

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