The Road to Equity: The Fight Continues

May 17, 2021 · NCQA Communications

During April, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) recognized “National Minority Health Month” and hosted a two-day online forum, “The Road to Equity: Examining Structural Racism in Health Care,” to highlight its renewed focus on health equity.

NCQA attended to learn more about CMS OMH’s role as an equity partner and how other agencies address structural racism. Panelists also discussed COVID-19’s disproportionate impact in minority communities and the importance of vaccination.

Other key discussion highlights include:

  • Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding support for equity initiatives.
  • Oversight in place to address issues of racism and inequities in health care.
  • Strategies and Opportunities to take on maternal health equity.
  • Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) and where they are needed.
  • Health disparities in rural communities.

This forum revealed multiple insights in terms of gauging where we stand as a nation now on health equity, where we want to be and how CMS expects to improve. From our perspective, many of the initiatives CMS is considering look like they are headed in the right direction, and are aligned with our own efforts to tackle equity as described in our health care quality recommendations to the Biden administration delivered earlier this year.

More than a decade ago, we created our Multicultural healthcare Distinction (MHC) program. It’s designed to help payers and providers improve the quality of care for patients by setting standards that demonstrate sensitivity to patient populations’ racial, cultural, and language differences.

NCQA recognizes there’s much more to do to address health inequities. We commit to continue our work with the government and other organizations. We support efforts to collect race/ethnicity and language data, to actively assess and address disparities, to conduct CLAS quality improvement activities, and to encourage networks that meet members’ cultural profile.

We commend CMS OMH for its leadership hosting this forum. It demonstrates just how closely our missions are aligned. Equity is Quality. We’re pleased to have a close ally in this mission.

Now, let’s get to work.  Check out our MHC Distinction page, our equity resources and news on several states’ embrace of MHC.

Oh, and if you weren’t able to attend the forum, visit CMS’s Webinars and Events page for presentation slides and the past recording.

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