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New Report Supports State Medicaid Programs to Advance Health Justice

Rates of illness and death due to the COVID-19 pandemic have disproportionally impacted Americans who are Black, African American, Latinx, Native American, Asian, and other people of color as well as people with disabilities and those subsisting on poverty-level income. In response to this, AcademyHealth, in partnership with the Disability Policy Consortium (DPC), a Massachusetts-based cross-disability advocacy and action research organization, released a new report: Advancing Health Justice Using Medicaid Data: Key Lessons from Minnesota for the Nation. This report provides information on the importance of investing in data analysis to advance health justice in Medicaid populations. It further highlights the importance of partnering with communities most impacted by injustices that cause inequities in health outcomes.

The report was authored by Ellen Breslin, MPP, Health Management Associates (HMA); Dennis Heaphy, M.Div. MEd. MPH, DPC; Tony Dreyfus, MCP, an independent consultant; Anissa Lambertino, PhD, HMA; and Jeff Schiff, MD, MBA, AcademyHealth. Additional contributors included Susan Kennedy, MPP, MSW, AcademyHealth; Sunita Krishnan, MPH, AcademyHealth; and Kelsi Jackson, MPH, HMA. The authors performed this work pro bono.

The authors wish to emphasize that the analytical work presented in this report, although important, should only be considered an initial step in a long process to prioritize health equity. State Medicaid programs must move beyond measurement and take action to reduce health disparities, which will require significant effort and commitment.

State Medicaid programs play an essential role in providing healthcare coverage to millions of Americans who experience institutional and interpersonal discrimination and bias. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that Medicaid programs need data, new tools, methodologies, and strategies to identify and reduce preventable morbidity and mortality rates in under-resourced communities. This report highlights the importance of investment in Medicaid data analytics to measure and reduce health disparities and inequities resulting from injustice. The report provides a comprehensive evidence base of health disparities among children and adults covered under Minnesota’s Medicaid program through a health equity lens.

The report: (1) provides information to support state Medicaid programs to measure and address health disparities; (2) highlights the essential contribution to the evidence base by one state’s Medicaid program; (3) underscores racial injustice, discrimination, bias, and stigma in our health care system; (4) emphasizes the importance of using an intersectional approach to disparity measurement; and, (5) urges state Medicaid programs to invest in data and analysis to measure health disparities.

Read the full report on the AcademyHealth website.