Recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined an action plan for addressing health disparities; ensuring high-quality, affordable healthcare for everyone, regardless of their background; and driving health equity across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

According to a press release from CMS, the agency’s health equity strategy is part of its commitment to make health equity the first “pillar” of its strategic vision and builds upon the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order 13985, “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”

A Health Equity Strategy Across the Agency

In the press release, CMS outlined how all CMS Centers and Offices have been charged with building health equity into their core work through actions such as:

  • Closing gaps in care, access and outcomes for underserved populations
  • Promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate services
  • Improving outreach efforts to increase enrollment of eligible individuals in programs like Medicare and Medicaid/CHIP
  • Expanding and standardizing their collection and use of data, including data associated with social determinants of health (SDOH)
  • Evaluating policies to determine how CMS can support safety net providers
  • Ensuring engagement with and accountability to the communities CMS serves
  • Considering the perspectives and experiences of a wide variety of healthcare stakeholders
  • Incorporating screening for health-related social needs and promoting broader access to services to address them
  • Serving as a model and catalyst for advancing health equity

An Invitation to Healthcare Leaders

With the announcement, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure invited healthcare leaders to work with CMS and share best practices for addressing health inequities. And as part of meeting its goals, CMS will be encouraging others in the industry to “make commitments to advance health equity, such as designing, implementing, and operationalizing initiatives that support health; eliminating avoidable differences in health outcomes experienced by people who are disadvantaged or underserved; and providing the care and support people, particularly those with Medicare, Medicaid or Marketplace coverage, need to thrive.”

A corresponding fact sheet shares the key actions CMS Centers and Offices have taken so far in the strategic plan to advance health equity.

Sources: CMS Press Release; CMS Health Equity Pillar Fact Sheet

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