The Presidential Health Equity Task Force released its final report and implementation plan with recommendations for equitable disbursement of COVID-19 relief funding and culturally aligned communication, messaging, and outreach to people of color and other underserved populations.
Established by a Jan. 21 executive order, the task force is chaired by Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, and comprised 12 nonfederal members from diverse backgrounds, in addition to six federal agencies. The task force’s mission is to provide specific recommendations to the president for mitigating inequities caused or exacerbated by the pandemic and for preventing such inequities in the future.
The final report outlines five priority actions to address health equity in health care, including:
- investment in community-led solutions to improve health equity;
- enforcement of a data ecosystem that promotes equity-driven decision making;
- increased accountability for health equity outcomes;
- investment in a representative health care workforce and increased equitable access to quality health care for all; and
- coordinated implementation of the task force’s recommendations through a permanent health equity infrastructure in the White House.
The priority actions serve as a basis for a larger set of 55 recommendations, among them the need to:
- fund organizations that work with people of color and other underserved populations;
- prepare communication campaigns on COVID-19 and general public health emergencies;
- support equity-centered data collection and the modernization of data usage;
- strengthen affordable broadband access;
- advance cultural responsiveness and language access;
- improve Medicare and Medicaid payment parity for behavioral health;
- improve health equity through measurement initiatives;
- curtail hospital and health facility closures; and
- prioritize care for the underserved.
Additionally, the task force released a snapshot of select recommendations relevant to essential workers, front-line workers, and agricultural workers.
Implementation and Expected Outcomes
The proposed implementation plan consists of an accountability framework to effect change and monitor progress to advance health equity — specifically through use of a logic model with measurable benchmarks for accountable progress and key performance indicators. The task force urges government agencies at all levels and nongovernmental actors alike to review the recommendations and use the resources provided to begin implementation.
Expected outcomes from the recommendations include:
- community expertise and effective communication elevated in health care and public health;
- data that accurately represents all populations and their experiences to drive equitable decisions;
- health equity that is centered in all processes, practices, and policies; and
- equitable access to high-quality health care for all.
New Funding for Equity Initiatives
Alongside the release of the report, the White House announced $785 million in new investments from the American Rescue Plan Act focused on equity.
The funding comes in direct response to the task force’s recommendations and includes nearly $240 million to support apprenticeship programs at more than 500 health care and public health sites nationally, including emergency departments. The programs aim to build the pipeline of public health workers in underserved communities.
Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.