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  • Washington Highlights

    Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Releases Final Report


    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force published its recommendations and an implementation plan, which were delivered as a final report to the White House Office of COVID-19 Response on Nov. 10.

    The opening letter from task force Chair Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, director of the Equity Research and Innovation Center at Yale School of Medicine, said, “While the events of the past 18 months have made us crucially aware of COVID-19’s skewed toll on communities of color and other underserved populations, there has never been a time in which these communities have not suffered disproportionate burdens of death and disease.”

    The report recommended the administration prioritize the following actions to address the inequitable health outcomes that communities of color and other underserved populations have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic:

    • Invest in community-led solutions to address health equity.
    • Enforce a data ecosystem that promotes equity-driven decision making.
    • Increase accountability for health equity outcomes.
    • Invest in a representative health care workforce and increase equitable access to quality health care for all.
    • Lead and coordinate implementation of the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force’s recommendations from a permanent health equity infrastructure in the White House.

    The task force’s implementation plan enumerates 55 prioritized recommendations and suggests the following overarching implementation guidance for the administration’s consideration:

    • Within the first 120 days from this report’s release, each department should submit an action plan to the White House focused on the 55 prioritized recommendations, which may include existing or new activities that are relevant to achieve expected outcomes.
    • Subsequently, each department should submit a semiannual progress report on how its actions contribute to achieving the expected outcomes.
    • The department’s semiannual progress report on its action plans should include goals, strategies, and actions or activities that demonstrate changes in programs, policies, practices, and services, as measured by relevant key performance indicators.
    • The department’s actions should include, but not be limited to, inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes, and impact.
    • Proposed strategies for departmental actions should include continuous quality improvement and ongoing assessment of strategic effectiveness.

    AAMC President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, spoke at a July 30 task force meeting on how the United States can prepare for future public health crises to ensure equitable access to care. Dr. Skorton outlined four priorities: building trust through community engagement and collaboration, addressing racism and diversifying the health workforce, improving health equity data, and increasing access to care via telehealth [refer to Washington Highlights, Aug. 6].