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Health Equity and Access Weekly Roundup: April 20, 2024


The Center on Health Equity and Access provides the latest developments related to the progress, challenges and gaps in health care with new research, ongoing meetings, and expert insights.

The US Oncology Network Tackles Patients’ Health-Related Social Needs by Collaborating With Nation’s Largest Social Services Support Network

The US Oncology Network's partnership with findhelp aims to streamline access to support programs nationwide, recognizing the significant impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) and health-related social needs on overall well-being. According to the article, education, collaboration, and innovation were emphasized to promote adoption and sustainability, alongside advocating for reimbursement opportunities such as CMS' Enhancing Oncology Model. Community engagement is highlighted as essential for achieving equitable access to care and improving patients' quality of life collectively.

Dr Ronesh Sinha: Changing Cardiometabolic Health With Continuous Glucose Monitoring

During an interview at The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®) Institute for Value-Based Medicine®, Ronesh Sinha, MD, an internal medicine physician at Sutter Health, delved into his experience addressing cardiometabolic health challenges. Drawing from his clinical practice, Sinha highlighted the effectiveness of continuous glucose monitors in empowering patients to manage their glucose levels and prevent diabetes and heart disease. By prescribing sensors and developing a platform for patients to interpret data, the program aims to facilitate sustainable behavior changes. Critical partnerships with Sutter Pharmacy and physician colleagues have supported the program's growth and dissemination, reflecting Sutter Health's commitment to improving patient outcomes.

Collecting SDOH Data Can Assess Risk of Medical Nonadherence, Improve HEI and Star Ratings

The panel at the Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP) 2024 annual meeting discussed health equity and social determinants of health, highlighting their importance in Medicare's Star Ratings and risk adjustment in health care. Presenters outlined CMS' efforts to address disparities through policy changes and workforce diversification, with the inclusion of social risk factors in the Health Equity Index and upcoming adjustments for risk adjustment in adherence measures. They also explored the use of SDOH-related data to target Medicare members and improve adherence scores.

Commonwealth Fund Report Details Pervasive Racial and Ethnic Disparities in US Health Care, Outcomes

The Commonwealth Fund's 2024 State Health Disparities Report highlights persistent racial and ethnic disparities in health care across US states, driven by unequal access to high-quality care. By examining health system performance across racial and ethnic groups, the investigators reveal stark disparities in health outcomes, access to care, and quality of services. These inequities are exacerbated by policy decisions perpetuating economic suppression, educational disparities, and housing segregation. The COVID-19 pandemic further intensified these disparities, particularly affecting Black, Hispanic, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The report proposes policy recommendations spanning universal healthcare coverage, strengthening primary care, reducing administrative burdens, and investing in social services.

Study Highlights Disparities in Access to In-Network Mental Health Care vs Medical Care

A study by health economists at RTI International revealed a significant disparity in access to in-network mental health and substance use disorder treatment compared with medical care, with patients 3.5 times more likely to seek out-of-network care for behavioral health services. Lead author Tami L. Mark, PhD, MBA, fellow and director of Behavioral Health Financing and Quality Measurement at RTI noted the discrepancy in network adequacy measures. The study refuted the notion of a provider shortage as the primary cause, highlighting systemic disparities in reimbursement rates and access to affordable care.

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