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CMS Tackles Disparities for Low-Income, Minority Medicare Enrollees

On Tuesday, CMS released its first plan to improve health equity for low-income and minority seniors enrolled in Medicare, aiming to reduce disparities in four years, USA Today reports.

CMS' Office of Minority Health released the plan at a conference on the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. The event also marked the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report, an HHS investigation that detailed disparities in minority health.

Plan Details

The new plan focuses on Medicare beneficiaries with disproportionately high rates of disease, low quality of care and barriers to care, according to USA Today. That population includes:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities;
  • Sexual and gender minorities;
  • People with disabilities; and
  • Individuals living in rural areas (O'Donnell, USA Today, 9/8).

The plan sets six priorities for Medicare equity:

  • Expanding the use of standardized data;
  • Understanding how CMS programs influence disparities;
  • Finding promising solutions to reducing disparities, especially in hospital readmissions and nursing home quality;
  • Improving health care workers' ability to meet the needs of vulnerable populations;
  • Improving communication with those who have limited English proficiency or disabilities; and
  • Boosting physical accessibility of health care facilities (CMS plan, 9/8).
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