On September 8, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new plan to address health equity in Medicare. The CMS Equity Plan for Medicare is an action-oriented plan that aims to make health care for minority and poor senior citizens more equitable.
The Equity Plan focuses on Medicare populations that experience disproportionately high incidences of disease, lower quality of care, and obstacles accessing care. CMS indicated that these people include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities, and those living in rural areas.
“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,” said Andy Slavitt, CMS Acting Administrator.
The Equity Plan focuses on six priorities that were developed over a yearlong process:
I. Expand the Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Standardized Data;
II. Evaluate Disparities Impacts and Integrate Equity Solutions Across CMS Programs;
III. Develop and Disseminate Promising Approaches to Reduce Health Disparities;
IV. Increase the Ability of the Health Care Workforce to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Populations;
V. Improve Communication and Language Access for Individuals with Limited English Proficiency and Persons with Disabilities; and
VI. Increase Physical Accessibility of Health Care Facilities.
The plan was released at a conference marking the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid and the 30th anniversary of the 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health, also known as the Heckler Report.
“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. 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,” said Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “We know that in order to achieve the goals of the plan, we need to work with many stakeholders, and we hope that as we start to implement the activities in the plan, we will see a number of them join us on the path to equity.”
If you are a health care professional and have questions regarding how The CMS Equity Plan may affect your business, please contact the Health Law Division at Shapiro Law Group, PC.
By Anna Shapiro, Esq.