Identifying And Evaluating Equity Provisions In State Health Care Reform

Source: Brian Smedley and Beatrice Alvarez -The Opportunity Agenda, Rea Pañares, Cheryl Fish-Parcham, and Sara Adland – Families USA, Commonwealth Fund, April 2008

Millions of people in the United States–principally racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and those who lack proficiency in English–face barriers to high-quality health care. Such problems are largely due to high numbers of uninsured individuals among these groups, though it persists even when they are insured. By expanding health insurance coverage and addressing issues of access to care, quality of care, patient empowerment, infrastructural reforms, and social and community-level determinants of health, states have the potential to achieve equity. This report seeks to identify state policies that promote equitable health care access and quality and to evaluate existing laws, regulations, or reform proposals in five states–Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. These states’ initiatives, all of which move toward universal health insurance coverage, also address other innovative strategies such as improving health care provider diversity, distribution, and cultural competence.

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