CMS prioritizes areas for reducing healthcare disparities

A new action plan from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will aim to reduce healthcare disparities among Medicare beneficiaries in four years.

The “CMS Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare,” released on Tuesday, focuses on populations of Medicare beneficiaries that experience high burdens of disease, lower qualities of care and difficulties accessing care. Those populations include racial and ethnic minorities, sexual and gender minorities, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.

The plan is broken up into six priority areas for reducing healthcare disparities, including increasing physical access to healthcare facilities, improving communications for people with disabilities or limited English proficiency and improving healthcare workers' abilities to meet the needs of underserved populations.

“Making sure care is equitable is often the forgotten core area of focus for ensuring that the health system is meeting patient needs and delivering high-quality care,” wrote Cara James, director of the CMS Office of Minority Health. “The CMS Equity Plan for Medicare will help to ensure that as we work towards better care, smarter spending, and healthier people we also continue to work to achieve health equity in Medicare.”