Health Equity: The Big Lift

CMS has provided a framework by which to help achieve health equity.

Health equity continues to gain attention and discussion with not only payers, health systems, and consumers, but also within government.

Those who provide care have come to the realization that we need to get in front of health not only through prevention and management but also through education and understanding there are barriers to health that go far deeper than that. Some barriers are related to who we are, where we are, what we look like, and how we fit into society. the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken on this huge lift through the “CMS Framework for Health Equity 2022–2032.”

You may ask, “Why do you say huge lift?” Well, I think to understand that we must understand what health equity really is. Health equity, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition is “the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health.” In this statement a wide array of people are included, not just the poor people who probably come to many minds. Health equity for everyone includes “optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, preferred language, or other factors that affect access to care and health outcomes.” So that includes someone who lives in the most remote area of North Dakota, another  who  needs mobile assistance to get to the doctor, a transwoman beginning her transition, and an immigrant who is trying to find an English as a second  language class. As you read those examples, understanding the lift gets clearer and clearer and it will surely take all of us to carry our five pounds to make it easier.

The framework, as described by CMS, encompasses “both system and community-level approaches to achieve equity across CMS programs.” These programs are those we utilize to meet the needs of the patient and contribute to the success of our institutions. The five priorities provide a tool to assist us in uplifting our communities and clearing a path to support the lift. Here are some tips to apply to your workplace.

1) Expand the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data – Data drives understanding. If we can understand our communities, we can target the need and put action into focus. Start looking at your data and partnering with agencies in your communities.

 2) Assess causes of disparities within CMS programs, and address inequities in policies and operations to close gaps – What are the causes of disparity within your institutions? Begin to investigate how changes can improve care and access.

 3) Build capacity of healthcare organizations and the workforce to reduce health and Healthcare disparities – Many healthcare organizations are already expanding and partnering with their local schools, colleges, and university to close the gaps related to service and staffing. What are you plans for expansion and the workforce?

4) Advance language access, health literacy, and the provision of culturally tailored services – Understanding deficiencies related to literacy can improve understanding and help those communities.

5) Increase all forms of accessibility to healthcare services and coverage – Know what your state and payers doing to improve coverage and outreach.

Read more here and help with the lift.



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