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Medicaid Medical Directors Network: Perspectives on Health Disparities and State Strategies

This paper identifies and addresses inherent biases that promote health inequities resulting in sustained health disparities. Reviewing the levers that Medicaid can use to address health disparities, the summary also highlights several strategies that state Medicaid agencies can deploy in partnership with other state agencies and the communities Medicaid serves.

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Medicaid Medical Directors, as the clinical visionaries of the Medicaid program, undertook a detailed examination of both long-studied health disparities and some of the solutions state Medicaid agencies are pursuing. This paper, from AcademyHealth’s Medicaid Medical Directors Network (MMDN), found that considerable work needs to be done to remediate preventable health inequities, but much has been learned about effective planning and actions targeted toward health inequity, thus reduction of disparities. Success in states that achieved health disparities’ reduction was reliant upon data collection techniques that accurately identified sectors of the population experiencing inequities as well as disparities. Also, intentional efforts directed toward health disparities, community engagement in disparities’ reduction efforts, and identifying and working through legislative champions have contributed to improvements toward health equity and reduced disparities.