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Taking Action To Address Inequities In Health Care

by AHIP

April 8, 2021

Ending discrimination and systemic racism is essential for an equitable health care system—but addressing discrimination alone does not fully address health equity challenges.  Health insurance providers are committed to working with federal, state, and local governments, along with community organizations and other stakeholders to improve health equity so everyone in America has an equal opportunity to thrive and achieve their best health.

Below are actions health insurance providers have taken in 2021 to advance health equity and make real progress toward this shared commitment. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is providing new resources to help improve the health outcomes of pregnant women and their infants in underserved communities across Illinois. BCBSIL is announcing more than $350,000 in grant funding to six community-based organizations working to improve maternal health outcomes on Chicago’s South and West Side neighborhoods.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation donated $300,000 to six community-based nonprofits to support permanent house initiatives that can help improve racial and economic health equity. Supportive housing has been linked with intensive case management and voluntary life-improving services such as health care and child welfare.

The Cigna Foundation has announced an open call for applications for its new Health and Well-Being grant program, part of an ongoing initiative to improve access to care and eliminate health disparities. In 2021, the Cigna Foundation plans to award over $3 million in grants to support non-profits and community organizations focused on addressing these challenges. Qualified non-profits must specifically address health and well-being with programs that focus on health navigation to improve overall access to care, treatment and medications.

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation is awarding $120,000 through its “Healthy Youth, Healthy Community” racial equity grants program.  Six organizations supporting and working with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) youth in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire will each receive $20,000.  These grants will help BIPOC youth improve the overall health and racial equity of their community.

Health Net has announced a $26 million investment to improve the collection and reporting of patient encounter data — furthering its commitment and partnership with the state to reduce disparities and improve quality of care for vulnerable populations in California. With more than 13 million – nearly one in three Californians – currently enrolled in Medi-Cal, this initiative is a key to understanding how underserved communities are navigating and accessing care statewide.

Health Net has committed a total of $50 million to fund a multi-year, multi-phased Encounter Data Improvement Program. Envisioned and developed in collaboration with the Department of Managed Health Care, the program is designed to identify and overcome barriers to the timely submission of complete and accurate patient health data across business lines — with an initial focus on the state’s Medi-Cal providers.

Inland Empire Health Plan continues to partner with community organizations in Riverside and San Bernardino counties to fight for racial equality in the Inland Empire.

To help strengthen Black-led and Black-empowering organizations, IEHP has also partnered with Inland Empire Community Foundation, the Black Equity Initiative, and the Inland Empire Funders Alliance providing a $50,000 sponsorship to the Inland Empire Black Equity Fund.

The health plan is taking steps beyond financial support and sponsorship, working with local health and community organizations to host webinars on issues specifically affecting Black and Hispanic communities. In addition, IEHP is committed to supporting equity in all public policies by staying involved and compliant with the state’s upcoming California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal Initiative, known as CalAIM.

The most recent activity includes a $2,000 sponsorship to the Center Against Racism and Trauma’s (CART) first I.E. Antiracist Summit. Held on March 17, this virtual event teaches IE residents about the Anti-racism Movement and how to actively fight against racism. Registration for this event can be found at destroyracism.org/events.

Kaiser Permanente will donate grants totaling $500,000 to four nonprofit, community-based organizations in Washington to address systemic racism the state. The grants will focus on civic engagement and policy, health care, education, and business and cultural development. Together these grants aim to dismantle discriminatory policies, systems, and practices and will touch nearly 52,000 individuals across the state.

Priority Health has launched a new web presence that focuses on social determinants of health and health inequities. The new landing page, available to the general public, is meant to serve as a central hub for all content related to Priority Health’s efforts towards addressing SDOH.

The landing page provides visitors with educational background information on SDOH, a recently published report from Priority Health highlighting their work and programs that address health inequities, and links to programs, news coverage and articles related to the topic.

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