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CMS Unveils 4-Year Plan to Reduce Health Disparities in Medicare

Laura Joszt
CMS has released a new plan to address health equity in Medicare, which includes 6 priority areas aimed at reducing health disparities over the next 4 years.
Following a recent proposal from HHS to improve protections for vulnerable populations and ensure they have equal access to healthcare and health coverage, CMS has released its plan to address health equity in Medicare.

The plan, created by the CMS Office of Minority Health, focuses on 6 priority areas and is aimed at reducing health disparities over the next 4 years. The Equity Plan focuses on populations in Medicare—such as racial and ethnical minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities, and people living in rural areas—that experience high burdens of disease, lower quality of care, and barriers access care.

“As we strive to create a health care system that provides better care, spends dollars more wisely and creates healthier people, CMS is committed to achieving equity for minority and other underserved populations and eliminating health disparities among Medicare beneficiaries,” CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said in a statement.

The plan was released at the Medicare & Medicaid at 50: Their Past Present, and Future Impact on Health Equity conference, held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid.

CMS outlined 6 priority areas that serve as the plan’s foundation:
Priority 1: Expand the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data
Priority 2: Evaluate disparities impacts and integrate equity solutions across CMS payments
Priority 3: Develop and disseminate promising approaches to reduce health disparities
Priority 4: Increase the ability of the healthcare workforce to meet the needs of vulnerable populations
Priority 5: Improve communication and language access for individuals with limited English proficiency and persons with disabilities
Priority 6: Increase physical accessibility of healthcare facilities

“Making sure care is equitable is often the forgotten core area of focus for ensuring that the health system is meeting patient needs and delivering high quality care,” said Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “The CMS Equity Plan for Medicare will help to ensure that as we work towards better care, smarter spending, and healthier people we also continue to work to achieve health equity in Medicare.”

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