Advancing Health Equity

HLC Position:

HLC supports building on the solid foundation generated by its member-driven expert task force on health equity and the research collaboration with ZS on disparities in care delivery. In addition to focusing on deliverables such as improving equity-related data collection and dissemination, HLC applies its energies and works with its member companies in a number of areas, including diversifying clinical trial recruitment, achieving greater diversity in the healthcare workforce, and addressing the social drivers of health. HLC also apprises decisionmakers of the fact that inequities fall into multiple categories not limited to race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, but also challenges faced by those in both rural and underserved urban areas.

HLC Activity:

  • HLC’s health equity workgroup continues to achieve progress on its action plan. The workgroup focuses on six areas: addressing social determinants of health, eliminating variations in care delivery, addressing diversity challenges in the workforce and clinical trials, improving behavioral health, enhancing interoperability standards, and expanding broadband access. In 2023, the workgroup:
  • HLC provided several legislative and regulatory comments to Congress and the administration in support of improving health equity in America. This support continued in 2023 through:
    • Writing to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in response to its hearing, “What is Fueling the Diabetes Epidemic?”
    • Responding to the OMB request for information on initial proposals for updating race and ethnicity statistical standards.
    • Submitting comments to CMS’s “Medicare Program; Contract Year 2024 Policy and Technical Changes to the MA and Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program proposed rule” and Advance Notice of Methodological Changes for Calendar Year 2024 for MA Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies.
    • Meeting with Senate Finance Committee (SFC) member staffs to discuss negative ramifications on health equity of the proposed 2024 MA Advance Notice.
    • Advocating to the Senate and House Committee on Appropriations to increase funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Determinants of Health program, within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and meeting with appropriators seeking $5 million for the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for development and implementation of Health Level 7 (HL7) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) standards in 2024 appropriations.
    • Submitting comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the impact of data collection and processing on marginalized groups.
    • Commending the Biden administration for including an increase in funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in its staffing and administrative support for the S. Preventive Services Task Force in its fiscal year 2024 budget proposal.
    • Joining a group letter supporting R. 3069/S. 1296, the “John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act,” which would advance health equity for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
    • Endorsing H.R. 6033, the “Supporting Patient Education and Knowledge (SPEAK) Act.” HLC President Mary R. Grealy provided a quote acknowledging the legislation as a positive step in improving health equity throughout the nation. The quote was included in Representative Michelle Steel’s (R-CA) press release.
  • HLC continues to use its social media platforms to highlight the importance of addressing health inequities. Highlights in 2023 included:
    • Posting a blog on the need to increase diversity in clinical trials and address barriers in trial participation and access to treatment.
    • Issuing a press release highlighting the CMS 2024 MA and Part D Advance Notice’s adverse impact on supplemental benefits that address SDOH.