Health Equity Data Access Program

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Health Equity Data Access Program


CMS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is supporting three (3) “seats” in the CMS Virtual Research Data Center (VRDC) to assist researchers in gaining access to CMS restricted data for minority health research. Awardees will gain access to CMS data to conduct health services research focusing on minority populations, including race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status. This announcement seeks brief project narratives for specific applied research projects that relate to creative and innovative methods for using CMS data to identify, document, assess, and evaluate health disparities among Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.

The project should enhance the capacity of the researcher to understand and utilize CMS data in future research projects. Seat access will be funded for a period of 36 months each.

Results of the Health Equity Data Access Program will provide CMS and its agents, (e.g. Quality Improvement Organizations, Hospital Engagement Networks, etc.) with actionable information on the aforementioned subgroups of beneficiaries. This will allow CMS and its agents to realize gains in efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on the identification and eradication of health disparities in disadvantaged populations.

Additionally, CMS OMH encourages cutting-edge proposals that explore intersectionality. Intersectionality takes into account two or more aspects of a person’s identity including: class, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, rurality, disability status, and/or other social determinants.

Interested parties may view the 20 minute webcast “Using CMS Data for Research on Disparities in Health and Health Care” for a quick introduction to a variety of CMS data sources (fee-for-service claims, post-acute care assessments, surveys, and beneficiary demographics), and types of data. Throughout this video, variables of potential interest to disparities researchers are explored; this includes race and ethnicity, disability status, primary language, and dual eligibles. The webcast concludes a discussion of mechanisms for accessing the data. 

CMS is interested in data driven research which explores, but is not limited to, the relationship between health disparities and

  • Improving the quality of care
  • Increasing access to care
  • Partnering with the health care workforce
  • Estimating the economic burden/financial costs of disparities
  • Building the business case for investing in health equity
  • Enhancing language access
  • Evaluating the effects of health care delivery system and payment model reforms
  • Exploring disparity sensitive conditions or diseases
  • Strengthening population health

Requests must meet the eligibility requirements (PDF). Once selected, the study must receive approval from the CMS Privacy Board.

Awards for 2016-2019:

Initial seats were awarded for a project period 2016-2019.

Current Projects:

Project Title Principal Investigator Institution
Interaction of Medicaid, Medicare, and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) in reducing racial/ethnic disparities in primary and specialty care and improving outcomes, based on reductions in ambulatory care sensitive (ACSC) hospital admissions or emergency department (ED) use Leighton Ku, Ph.D., M.P.H. George Washington University
Disparities in surgical care among racial and ethnic minorities in Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) Andrew J. Schoenfeld, M.D., M.Sc. Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Medicaid Payment Reform and Disparities in Cesarean Birth and Maternal Morbidity Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D. University of Minnesota School of Public Health
Medicaid Payment Policy and Disparities in Mental Health Care among Medicaid and Dual Eligible Beneficiaries Vickie Fung, Ph.D. Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research and Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance, and Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School
Assessing Mental Health Care Disparities by Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Gender Identity Ben Cook, Ph.D. Center for Multicultural Mental Health Research and Health Equity Research Lab at Cambridge Health Alliance, and Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Page Last Modified:
06/28/2019 08:57 AM