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Policy experts call for better Medicaid data collection to address health inequity

A team of healthcare policy experts is calling for an overhaul of the ways in which Medicaid data is collected and analyzed to address health equity issues (Source: “Health Policy Experts: Medicaid Data Processes Must Be Improved to Achieve Equity,” Heathcare Innovation, May 25).

Writing in Health Affairs, the researchers say that “the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated health care inequities in the United States. Calls to address health care disparities have intensified, and the Biden Administration has made equity a central component of its policy agenda. The confluence of these social and political forces has reinvigorated discussion about how to address health care inequities in public insurance programs, and refocused attention on Medicaid — which now covers more than 86 million Americans — as a lever for advancing health equity.”

The authors point to the 2021 decision by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to explicitly add health care equity as one of its five core objectives. CMMI also specifically prioritized initiatives to improve care and outcomes for vulnerable and underserved populations in Medicaid.

“These efforts depend, however, on the ability to measure disparities in access to care, quality of care, and health outcomes by race and ethnicity,” the authors wrote. “Due to lack of high-quality data, it remains impossible to fully evaluate the state of health equity in the Medicaid program.”