Press Releases

CMS Outlines Strategy to Advance Health Equity, Challenges Industry Leaders to Address Systemic Inequities

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined an action plan that demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s ongoing efforts to provide high-quality, affordable health care for all people, regardless of their background, and to drive health equity across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Building on the agency’s commitment to make health equity the first “pillar” of its strategic vision, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure invited health care industry leaders to make commitments to advance health equity and work with CMS to share best practices to address systemic inequities in the delivery of care.

“Advancing health equity is the core work of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. We can’t achieve our health system goals until everyone can attain the highest level of health. That’s why I am inviting the health care industry to work alongside CMS as we transform the way patients are cared for in our country,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Health equity will be embedded within the DNA of CMS and serve as the lens through which we view all of our work. Our vision is clear and our goal is straightforward — we will not stop until every person has a fair and just opportunity to attain their optimal health. ” 

As a part of its plan, CMS laid out the central role health equity will play in the work of all CMS Centers and Offices, including the Center for Medicare (CM), the Center for Medicaid & CHIP (CMCS), Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI), and the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ).  This work includes working with and sharing best practices across states, health care facilities, providers, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, people with lived experience, researchers, and other key stakeholders to drive commitments to advance health equity.

CMS Health Equity Strategy:

CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure has charged each CMS Center and Office with building health equity into their core work, aimed to better identify and respond to inequities in health outcomes, barriers to coverage, and access to care. They include the following actions:

  • Close gaps in health care access, quality, and outcomes for underserved populations.
  • Promote culturally and linguistically appropriate services to ensure understandable and respectful care and services that are responsive to preferred languages, health literacy, and other diverse communication needs.
  • Build on outreach efforts to enroll eligible people across Medicare, Medicaid/CHIP and the Marketplace. 
  • Expand and standardize the collection and use of data, including on race, ethnicity, preferred language, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, income, geography, and other factors across CMS programs.
  • Evaluate policies to determine how CMS can support safety net providers caring for underserved communities, and ensure care is accessible to those who need it.
  • Ensure engagement with and accountability to the communities served by CMS in policy development and the implementation of CMS programs.
  • Incorporate screening for and promote broader access to health-related social needs, including greater adoption of related quality measures, coordination with community-based organizations, and collection of social needs data in standardized formats across CMS programs and activities.
  • Ensure CMS programs serve as a model and catalyst to advance health equity through our nation’s health care system, including with states, providers, plans, and other stakeholders.
  • Promote the highest quality outcomes and safest care for all people through use of the framework under the CMS National Quality Strategy.

Invitation to Advance Health Equity

In effort to address systemic inequities across the industry, CMS will be encouraging health care leaders to make commitments to advance health equity, such as designing, implementing, and operationalizing initiatives that support health; eliminating avoidable differences in health outcomes experienced by people who are disadvantaged or underserved; and providing the care and support people, particularly those with Medicare, Medicaid or Marketplace coverage, need to thrive. This aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive, long-term strategy to advance health equity.

To ensure sustained progress through meaningful initiatives, CMS will convene industry stakeholders, including health care facilities, insurance companies, state officials and providers. The first of these convenings will take place in Summer 2022 and focus on ways to improve maternal health outcomes experienced by pregnant and postpartum people. CMS and experts will invite health care industry leaders to share best practices and commitments to strengthen maternal health.

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