Newly Released: CMS Framework for Health Equity

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“As the nation’s largest health insurer, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has a critical role to play in driving the next decade of health equity for people who are underserved. Our unwavering commitment to advancing health equity will help foster a health care system that benefits all for generations to come.”  ~

Dr. LaShawn McIver, Director, CMS Office of Minority Health 

The CMS Framework for Health Equity provides a strong foundation for leaders and trusted partners dedicated to advancing health equity, expanding coverage and improving health outcomes.

This includes strengthening infrastructure for assessment, creating synergies across the healthcare system to drive structural change, and identifying and working together to eliminate barriers to CMS-supported benefits, services, and coverage for individuals and communities who are underserved or disadvantaged and those who support them. 

Across CMS, we are committing to taking an integrated, action-oriented approach to advance health equity among members of communities, providers, plans, and other organizations serving such communities, who are underserved or disadvantaged. 

CMS released an updated framework to further advance health equity, expand coverage, and improve health outcomes for the more than 170 million individuals supported by CMS programs. The framework sets foundation and priorities for CMS’s work strengthening its infrastructure for assessment, creating synergies across the health care system to drive structural change, and identifying and working to eliminate barriers to CMS-supported benefits, services, and coverage.

Priority 1: Expand the Collection, Reporting, and Analysis of Standardized Data

CMS strives to improve our collection and use of comprehensive, interoperable, standardized individual-level demographic and social determinants of health (SDOH) data, including race, ethnicity, language, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, disability status, and SDOH. By increasing our understanding of the needs of those we serve, including social risk factors and changes in communities’ needs over time, CMS can leverage quality improvement and other tools to ensure all individuals have access to equitable care and coverage.

Priority 2: Assess Causes of Disparities Within CMS Programs and Address Inequities in Policies and Operations to Close Gaps

CMS is committed to move beyond observation and into action, assessing our programs and policies for unintended consequences and making concrete, actionable decisions about our policies, investments, and resource allocations. Our goals are to explicitly measure the impact of our policies on health equity, to develop sustainable solutions that close gaps in health and health care access, quality, and outcomes and to invest in solutions that address health disparities.

Priority 3: Build Capacity of Health Care Organizations and the Workforce to Reduce Health and Health Care Disparities

CMS has a commitment to support health care providers, plans, and other organizations who ensure individuals and families receive the highest quality care and services. Health care professionals, particularly those serving minority and underserved communities, have a direct link to individuals and families and can address disparities at the point of care. CMS policy, program, and resource allocation decisions must build capacity among providers, plans, and other organizations to enable stakeholders to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Priority 4: Advance Language Access, Health Literacy, and the Provision of Culturally Tailored Services

CMS must ensure that all individuals we serve, including members of communities that are underserved, can equitably access all CMS benefits, services and other supports, and coverage. Language access, health literacy, and the provision of culturally tailored services play a critical role in health care quality, patient safety and experience, and can impact health outcomes. CMS has opportunities across our operations, direct communication and outreach to enrollees and consumers, and guidance to plans, providers, and other partners to improve health care quality, patient safety, and the experience individuals have within the health care system.

Priority 5: Increase All Forms of Accessibility to Health Care Services and Coverage

CMS has a responsibility to ensure that individuals and families can access health care services when and where they need them, in a way that is responsive to their needs and preferences. CMS must seek direct feedback from individuals with disabilities, including physical, sensory and communication, intellectual disabilities, and other forms of disability, to understand their experiences navigating CMS-supported benefits, services, and coverage and tailor our programs and policies to ensure equitable access and quality.

The CMS Office of Minority Health offers health equity technical assistance resources, aimed to help health care organizations take action against health disparities. If you are looking for assistance, visit or email