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CPEHN in the News: New Federal Plan to Improve Equity in Medicare

CPEHN in the News: New Federal Plan to Improve Equity in Medicare

This month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a comprehensive report to promote equity in the Medicare program, which is relied upon by millions of older adults across the country. The report, The CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare, offers a four-year strategy to reduce disparities in communities of color, rural communities, and the LGBTQ population.

In today’s California Healthline, CPEHN’s Executive Director, Sarah de Guia, applauded CMS’s effort and noted the imperative of improving Medicare for communities of color and the LGBTQ population:

"We are heartened to see CMS focus on the persistent disparities impacting communities of color, the LGBT community, rural communities and persons with disabilities," said Sarah de Guia, CPEHN executive director. 

"This information will provide us a path forward to understanding the impacts of health disparities and identify ways to reverse the inequities that result from them," de Guia said.

Medicare recipients in communities of color have faced disparities in health outcomes for years. For example, a recent study found that African Americans and Latinos on Medicare are much less likely to have adequate control of their blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose than White Medicare recipients. Within the Medicare population, communities of color are much more likely to face socioeconomic challenges than Whites. For example, the median savings for Whites on Medicare ($85,950) is over seven times greater than those of African Americans ($11,650) and Latinos ($12,050). This gap is expected to grow to over $100,000 by 2030.

To address the needs of these particularly vulnerable communities, the CMS plan offers six primary strategies:

  • Expand the collection, reporting, and analysis of standardized data
  • Evaluate the impact of disparities and integrate equity solutions across all CMS programs
  • Identify and promote promising approaches to reduce health disparities
  • Improve the health care workforce’s ability to meet the needs of vulnerable populations
  • Promote access for Limited English Proficient populations and persons with disabilities
  • Increase the accessibility of health care facilities

These strategies will help target some of the access disparities faced by communities of color, rural communities, and the LGBTQ population. As Sarah said in the article above, a comprehensive strategy from CMS will help provide valuable information for our efforts to address the impact of health disparities on our communities. However, as community advocacy organizations, we should also continue to work on the socioeconomic inequities that can lead to disparities in health outcomes. With these combined efforts, we can make a more equitable health and social environment for Medicare recipients and all Americans.

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