Despite improvements in the overall health status of Americans, minorities continue to lag behind whites in health status and access to care. Since the 2002 release of the Institute of Medicine report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care (purchase required), a significant amount of analytic work has enhanced our understanding of the scope and causes of disparities in health and health care. It is now time to move beyond documenting disparities and to focus our efforts on actionable steps to eliminate them.
A comprehensive, multi-stakeholder strategy is needed to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care delivery. Progress in this area requires the engagement of the entire health care stakeholder community — purchasers, managed care organizations, providers, consumers, and community- based organizations. This brief outlines innovative, practical strategies that states and Medicaid managed care organizations nationally are implementing to address documented gaps in care.