What New OMB Rules on Race and Ethnicity Mean for You

April 30, 2024 · Andy Reynolds

NCQA is updating our programs to match the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) new rules for collecting data on race and ethnicity, released March 29.

Statistical Policy Directive (SDP) No. 15: Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity redefines how health care organizations collect and share this information.

We’re happy with the changes because they:

What’s new

OMB SDP 15 requires health care organizations to:

  • Add Middle Eastern or North African (MENA) as a reporting category, separate and distinct from White.
  • Require the collection of detailed race and ethnicity categories as a default.
  • Collect race and ethnicity data using a single combined question.
  • Allow multiple responses.

What’s next

Organizations everywhere are figuring out how to use these new data categories—it’s an important and complex process.

Federal agencies have:

  • 18 months to revise their data collection strategies to match the new rules.
  • 5 years to begin collecting data the new way.

We’re updating our programs to reflect the new guidelines.

NCQA Health Equity Accreditation and stratified HEDIS measures use OMB’s race and ethnicity categories from 1997.

As we update those programs, we’ll be sure to:

  • Give credit to organizations that adopt the new OMB guidelines.
  • Advise organizations how to adopt the new OMB categories–even if they do so before NCQA programs do.

To reinforce the need for industrywide alignment, we’ve suggested to the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT that it adopt SPD 15. (See our public comment to ONC about USCDI v5.)

What you can do

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