Press release



A collaboration to bridge disparate care of state’s poor minorities living with diabetes


A statewide effort to improve care for patients with diabetes across Mississippi, particularly for patients considered to be “medically underserved ,” is being announced today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).  The initiative is called the Mississippi Health First Collaborative.  


As part of the Collaborative, patients will receive diabetes self-management training in their home communities, in locations such as community centers or senior centers, instead of in hospitals or other traditional health care settings, such as doctors’ offices or outpatient clinics. The members of this Collaborative will help motivate and educate diabetes patients across the state to take preventive action against some of the complications of diabetes. Patients will get diabetes self-management training classes and health education literature  on how to best control their blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels; establish relationships with primary-care providers; address better nutrition,  regular exercise and how housing arrangements for patients can affect their health; and develop support networks of family, friends, and community-based social services.


“The Mississippi Health First Collaborative is a first for all of us,” said CMS’ Chief Medical Officer and Director of the agency’s Office of Clinical Standards and Quality, Barry M. Straube, M.D.  “It’s a first for patients, who will receive help managing their diabetes in community settings that are both familiar and comfortable to them.  It’s also a first for CMS and our extensive network of diabetes partners in Mississippi—to bring partners together in a way that let us all reach thousands more patients than we could have possibly reached alone.” 




Other federal agencies participating in the Mississippi Health First Collaborative include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Administration on Aging (AOA), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. National non-profit and state entities working with the collaborative include the American Association of Diabetes Educators, American Diabetes Association, National Academy for State Health Policy, and Mississippi’s Department of Health.


During the next 18 months, CMS and other Collaborative members will work together to reach thousands of patients with diabetes in Mississippi, through Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health clinics, existing and newly formed diabetes training programs, Area Agencies on Aging, the Division of Aging and Adult Services, housing authorities, and state and local health departments. CMS is mobilizing community groups, health experts, faith-based organizations, housing providers, healthcare providers, community leaders and others to reach patients across the state, including those with Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, and others without insurance. 


Research from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality  and other sources depict a bleak picture of the health of Mississippi’s population – the state has one of t

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he nation’s highest obesity rates; along with high rates of diabetes, poverty, and medical need. In Mississippi , approximately 1 in 7 African Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, compared to 1 in 10 whites. CDC data show that African Americans are at greater risk of diabetes and are more likely to experience disease and life-threatening complications, such as blindness and kidney failure.   Many individuals in the state are designated as being a part of a “medically underserved group,” which is a population group that faces face economic, cultural, or linguistic barriers to health care; or live in “medically underserved areas,” or areas with shortages in the availability of personal health services.


This project borrows from the success of other projects Medicare has undertaken to improve care for patients with diabetes.  Since August 2008, Medicare’s Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) have worked with local organizations and groups in select parts of the country to bring diabetes self-management training to their communities. This Collaborative is intended to provide similar services.  QIOs work in every state and territory of the United States to improve the quality of healthcare available to local Medicare beneficiaries.  QIOs for the states/territories of New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Louisiana, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have worked with hundreds of doctors’ offices to find Medicare patients who could benefit from diabetes self-management training.  To date, these efforts have helped more than 2,700  Medicare beneficiaries.  Through the summer of 2011, Medicare hopes to train at least 7,000 more beneficiaries in these states and territories.



Funding for the Mississippi Health First Collaborative is made possible by a grant from the NIH  and with program support from dozens of partners.  Information & Quality Healthcare, a not-for-profit health care corporation that also serves as the Medicare QIO for Mississippi, organizes the Collaborative locally. 


For more information on how patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, and community leaders can get involved in the Mississippi Health First Collaborative, please visit or call CMS’ Health Disparities Support Center at 1-877-746-6465.