As health care entities in the United States come to grips with the adverse effects of health disparities on health outcomes, it is equally critical for Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), community-based organizations (CBOs) and networks of CBOs to address these issues. The U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) encourages states and AAAs to take a broad approach to ensure services are reaching older adults in greatest social need, in line with recent Executive Orders made by President Biden. These populations include individuals who are Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+); individuals with disabilities; as well as those who live in rural areas.
According to a 2022 SameSky report, in the U.S., health disparities are responsible for about $93 billion in excess medical costs per year; $42 billion in lost productivity per year; and additional losses from premature deaths. The report further cites that people of color have a disproportionately higher incidence of chronic disease, often requiring costly treatments. For example, 21.5 percent of Hispanic people ages 20 and older have diabetes, compared with 13 percent of white people.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and health care accrediting bodies like the National Association for Quality Assurance and The Joint Commission have amended their health care evaluation performance and quality review criteria to reflect more emphasis on addressing social determinants of health, especially those related to health equity. Deployment of health-related social services and supports will be essential to meeting the broad needs of diverse consumers adversely impacted by health disparities. AAAs and CBOs that can demonstrate an understanding of these issues, and-provide informed support/services can potentially increase their contracting capacity.
To address these issues, USAging’s Aging and Disability Business Institute, in partnership with HealthBegins and Williams Jaxon Consulting, LLC and with funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation, is excited to launch two new learning collaboratives for AAAs and for CBO networks designed to assist them with the challenges of addressing health disparities and achieving health equity in their communities and states.
- The Network Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Learning Collaborative (NDEILC), led by Sharon Williams with Williams Jaxon Consulting, LLC, will support up to 12 networks of AAAs and CBOs in building and strengthening their DEI strategies and practices. The collaborative will equip network leadership with the knowledge and skills necessary to create and sustain realistic and actionable DEI strategies to enhance their business culture, create more consumer-friendly programs and services, and demonstrate value to the health care ecosystem.
- The Building Accountability for Health Equity Learning Collaborative (BAHELC), led by HealthBegins, will provide up to 12 AAAs with the knowledge and skills necessary to strengthen and sustain institutional accountability for health equity. The primary purpose is to equip AAA leaders with the understanding and capabilities required to build and maintain accountability mechanisms and institutional capacity essential to implementing, tracking and reporting on efforts to address health disparities.
Applications are due by November 21, and sessions begin in January 2023. Contact Maya Op de Beke (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.