September 8, 2015, the CMS Office of Minority Health unveiled the CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare (Equity Plan), the first plan designed to address health equity issues in Medicare. The plan was developed in collaboration with the University of Chicago, and focuses on six priority areas aimed at reducing health disparities.
Specifically, the Equity Plan focuses on Medicare populations that often experience disproportionately high burdens of disease, lower quality of health care, and barriers to accessing health care. Such populations include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, individuals with disabilities, and those residing in rural areas. The plan emphasizes increasing understanding and awareness of disparities, creating and sharing solutions, and accelerating implementation of effective actions.
The priorities of the Equity Plan include: (1) expanding the collection and reporting of standardized data, (2) integrating equity solutions across CMS programs, (3) developing approaches to reduce health disparities, (4) increasing the ability of the heath care work force to meet needs of vulnerable populations, (5) improving communication for individuals with limited English and individuals with disabilities, and (6) increasing physical accessibility of health care facilities. To assess and track the Equity Plan’s progress, CMS plans to design a comprehensive evaluation process.