The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced its proposed standards for collection of data about race, ethnicity, sex, and disability in all federal surveys, beginning in 2011.  These standards were required under section 4302  of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Over the past year, HHS consulted with federal agencies, requested recommendations from the HHS Data Council, and held listening sessions with relevant community stakeholders.  The public may submit comments about the draft minority data collection standards at www.regulations.gov under docket number HHS-OMH-2011-0013.  Public comments will be accepted until August 1.  Information is also available at www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/section4302.

The following are the proposed standards:

Race and Ethnicity
The proposed standards for race and ethnicity build upon the OMB standard, adding the type of granularity for Asian and Latino populations that is used in the American Community Survey (ACS) and was used in the 2000 and 2010 Decennial Census. The data standard can be view at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=208&id=9000#Race

The proposed data standard for sex is male and female. The survey item can be viewed at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=208&id=9000#Sex

Primary Language
English proficiency is the minimum data standard proposed for the primary language data standard. The recommended question is used in the ACS. The data standard can be viewed at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=208&id=9000#Lang1

Agencies would have the option of collecting data on the specific language spoken, using the questions used in the ACS. The data standard can be viewed at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=208&id=9000#Lang2

Disability Status
The six item set of questions used in ACS and other major federal surveys to characterize functional disability is proposed as the minimum standard for collecting population survey data on disability.  The question set was developed by a federal interagency committee and reflects how disability is conceptualized consistent with the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health. The question set went through several rounds of cognitive testing and has been adopted in most major federal data collection systems.  The data standard can be viewed at http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/templates/content.aspx?lvl=2&lvlid=208&id=9000#Disability

An explanation of the standards is available from HHS.

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