On April 20, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new strategic plan to establish health equity as a pillar of the agency's work. The CMS intends to use the plan to advance health equity in the design, implementation, and operation of all its policies and programs.
“Advancing health equity is the core work of the [CMS]. We can’t achieve our health system goals until everyone can attain the highest level of health. That’s why I am inviting the health care industry to work alongside CMS as we transform the way patients are cared for in our country,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Health equity will be embedded within the DNA of CMS and serve as the lens through which we view all of our work. Our vision is clear and our goal is straightforward — we will not stop until every person has a fair and just opportunity to attain their optimal health.”
The CMS defines health equity as “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people, where everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their optimal health regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, geography, preferred language, and other factors that affect access to care and health outcomes.” The plan includes actions such as closing gaps in quality and outcomes for underserved populations, expanding and standardizing the collection and use of data, evaluating policies to determine how the agency can support safety-net providers, and incorporating screening for and promoting broader access to support for health-related social needs.
The CMS intends to engage health care leaders in its work, beginning with convenings this summer focused on improving maternal health outcomes.