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CMS Releases Health Equity Action Plan

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) outlined a plan of action to address health equity, which represents the first of six pillars in the agency’s overarching strategic plan.

Each CMS center and office is charged with building health equity into its core work by:

  • closing gaps in health care access, quality, and outcomes for underserved populations;
  • promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate services to ensure understandable and respectful care and services that are responsive to preferred languages, health literacy, and other diverse communication needs;
  • building on outreach efforts to enroll eligible people in Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and health insurance marketplace plans;
  • expanding and standardizing across programs the collection and use of data on race, ethnicity, preferred language, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, income, geography, and other factors;
  • evaluating policies to determine how CMS can support health care providers caring for underserved communities and ensure accessible care;
  • ensuring engagement with and accountability to the communities CMS serves in policy development and program implementation;
  • incorporating screening for health-related social needs and promote broader access to resources, including greater adoption of related quality measures, coordination with community-based organizations, and collection of social needs data in standardized formats across CMS programs and activities;
  • ensuring CMS programs serve as a model and catalyst to advance health equity through the nation’s health care system, including with states, providers, plans, and other stakeholders; and
  • promoting the highest quality outcomes and safest care for all people through use of the framework under the CMS National Quality Strategy.

Further, the action plan highlights a health equity goal from each center and office and describes progress to date.

To ensure the progress and sustainability of these goals and actions, CMS will convene stakeholders to participate in health equity discussions, beginning with a summer 2022 convening focused on improving maternal health outcomes.

Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at or 202.585.0127 with questions.


About the Author

Abigail Painchaud is a policy associate at America's Essential Hospitals.

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