IHI, AMA Launch National Health Equity Coalition

Dec. 6, 2022
Goal is to catalyze individuals and organizations committed to health equity and justice to build, change, and transform healthcare with shared solutions and collective actions

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement has joined with the American Medical Association, Race Forward, and other organizations to create “Rise to Health: A National Coalition for Equity in Healthcare.”

One of the coalition’s goals is to catalyze individuals and organizations committed to health equity and justice to build, change, and transform healthcare with shared solutions and collective actions. “The time has come for a system-wide approach – where healthcare organizations, individual practitioners, payers, professional societies, and pharmaceutical, research, and biotech organizations come together and align activities to make the whole ecosystem of healthcare more equitable, said IHI President and CEO Kedar Mate, M.D., speaking at the IHI Forum taking place in Orlando.

Other founding members of the coalition include the Groundwater Institute, the American Hospital Association, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, Health Begins, and PolicyLink. Funding support comes from the AMA, IHI, Genentech, and the Commonwealth Fund.

In a briefing with reporters on Dec. 5, Mate said progress is being made in terms of a focus on paying for equity. He cited work IHI has done with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “They're taking really important strides to not only solve data problems for their providers, but using our data in a transparent fashion to create accountability and now building a payment model that can help support providers to pursue equity in a durable and sustainable fashion for the long haul,” he said.

Mate explained that the Rise to Health coalition is creating an aligned approach, “not just the providers on their own, but providers, payers, pharmaceutical companies, and professional societies all working together in that whole ecosystem approach to try to tackle inequity,” he said. “The AMA and IHI co-lead it, but right behind us are a whole host of organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and a series of racial justice organizations. We've developed a series of evidence- and experience-informed actions that they can take over the next few years to reach thousands of health systems, many of the dominant payers in the country, as well as many of the pharmaceutical companies and professional associations.”

Kicking off the IHI Forum, Mate urged the audience of health and health care professionals to change the narrative around inequities, “to understand them not as inevitabilities, but as things that we can, in fact, improve. Inequity in American healthcare is not our destiny, equity is.”

During his keynote remarks, Mate announced the teams that were selected for the third iteration of IHI’s Pursuing Equity program, which catalyzes health systems to take systemic action to achieve improvements in health equity and racial justice. Ten teams were chosen for an Action Community and 60 teams were selected for a Learning Network, both of which will begin in January 2023 and run through June 2024.

Another session at the IHI Forum will focus on a new IHI initiative, Eliminating Inequities in Postpartum Care. Funded by Merck for Mothers, the initiative was created to better understand the risks to Black mothers and birthing persons and their babies in the first 30 days postpartum, and to reduce inequities in morbidity and mortality. IHI will unveil the names of five birthing hospitals that were chosen to participate in a six-month Learning Community that convenes in January 2023.

During the press briefing, Mate was asked how well he thinks CMS and CMMI are doing at building equity into alternative payment models and involving safety net providers in those models.

“I know that CMS is busy working on some of these ideas right now, both on the payment side as well as on the regulatory side,” he responded. “They're working on these efforts to try to build equity not only into payment but also the conditions of participation. I think that's going to make a huge difference in terms of adoption for some of the practices that we've been advocating. I think it's a big and important step. I think there are private providers, like BCBS of Massachusetts, that are paving the way, and I think there’s a lot that public payers can learn from those early efforts. There are a lot of considerations that you have to be careful about so that we're not incentivizing cherry-picking, for example, or other such behaviors. But I'm pretty encouraged by how committed federal agencies across the board really are to efforts to build equity into overall payment models as well as ACO REACH and other such programs.”

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