Expanding the Reach of State Health Care Reforms

eAlert 491d3969-f392-415e-b159-1b5235501453

<p>Millions of people in the United States face barriers to high-quality health care, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, and people who lack proficiency in English. Although high uninsured rates among these groups play a large role, problems persist even when people have coverage.<br><br>In the new Commonwealth Fund report <a href="/publications/fund-reports/2008/apr/identifying-and-evaluating-equity-provisions-in-state-health-care-reform
">Identifying and Evaluating Equity Provisions in State Health Care Reform</a>, Brian Smedley, Ph.D., and a team of researchers from the Opportunity Agenda and Families USA identify state policies that promote equitable health care access and quality by expanding insurance coverage and access to care, raising the quality of care, empowering patients, upgrading health system infrastructure, and addressing social and community-level determinants of health.<br><br>The authors evaluate current laws, regulations, and reform proposals in five states--Massachusetts, Washington, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California. While they have adopted different approaches, these states have pursued some common strategies, including:<ul><li>Expanding access to health insurance products by reducing financial barriers to coverage.</li><li>Improving and evaluating outreach and enrollment efforts.</li><li>Collecting data on health care access and quality measures and sorting it by patient demographics.</li><li>Supporting safety-net institutions.</li><li>Improving the diversity, distribution, and cultural competence of health care providers.</li></ul>In addition to providing a wealth of information on best practices in these areas, the report identifies additional steps states can take to increase equity in their health care systems.<br><br>Also be sure to read Dr. Smedley's <em>Health Affairs</em> article, <a href="/publications/in-the-literature/2008/apr/moving-beyond-access--achieving-equity-in-state-health-care-reform
">Moving Beyond Access: Achieving Equity in State Health Care Reform</a>.</p>