Collecting the Data We Need to Reduce Health Disparities
By Dr. Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health
The Obama Administration is committed to promoting the health and well-being of all Americans, yet when we don’t have accurate information about who we serve, it is difficult to meet the unique needs of diverse communities. Many racial and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities, and other underserved populations face unique health challenges, have reduced access to health care and insurance, and often pay the price with poorer health throughout their lives. Over the past decade, little progress has been made in reducing these disparities. According to the Institute of Medicine, inadequate data on race, ethnicity, and language lowers the likelihood of effective actions to address health disparities.
But, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, section 4302 invests in the implementation of a new health data collection and analysis strategy. It requires all national federal data collection efforts to collect data on:
- Primary language
- Disability status
HHS also announced a new plan to collect data related to health of LGBT populations. We will integrate questions on sexual orientation into national data collection efforts by 2013 and begin the process to collect information on gender identity. This is a critical step toward development of a government-wide standard for LGBT data collection. By establishing consistent methods for collecting and reporting health data, we will be able to better understand the causes of health problems in underserved populations.
HHS continues to make significant progress toward improving the health of underserved populations. By collecting relevant data in a standardized format, we will be able to continue reducing the health disparities in many underserved communities.
The public may submit comments for the draft minority data collection standards at www.regulations.gov under docket number HHS-OMH-2011-0013. Public comments will be accepted until July 30.
Information is also available here.