The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health has unveiled an initiative to improve healthcare equity for Medicare beneficiaries that historically have had higher burdens or barriers in gaining access to quality healthcare services, including people with disabilities, racial and ethnic minorities, rural populations and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The plan, CMS' first initiative to tackle health equity for Medicare beneficiaries, outlines six priorities toward the goal of reducing disparity during the next four years:
- Expanding the collection reporting and analysis of standardized data
- Evaluating the impact of disparities and integrating equity solutions within CMS programs
- Developing promising approaches to reduce equity barriers
- Increasing the ability of healthcare's workforce to meet the needs of vulnerable populations
- Improving language access for those with limited English proficiency and improving communication access for those with diabilities
- Increasing 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, in a CMS press release. "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.
The plan was announced at today's conference, Medicare & Medicaid at 50: Their Past, Present & Future Impact on Health Equity, held in Baltimore.