This issue brief from Mathematica Policy Research examines current progress on reducing health care disparities, based on a literature search and key informant interviews with eight national researchers, policymakers, and stakeholders. The issue brief was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The issue brief begins by noting the persistence of racial and ethnic health care disparities, even a decade after the Institute of Medicine issued its landmark report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.

While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), hospitals, physicians, and health plans have all prioritized the reduction of health care disparities, and health care disparities reduction measures have been developed by organizations including the National Quality Forum and the National Committee for Quality Assurance, there still is impatience at the slow pace of improvements.

The stakeholders interviewed identified the following needs to make more progress on reducing health care disparities:

+ cross-cutting leadership to connect the dots between various initiatives and interventions to reduce health care disparities
+ aligning policy and payment with goals to reduce disparities
+ support for building infrastructure for effective local interventions
+ leveraging opportunities of the Affordable Care Act, with expansion of health insurance coverage and delivery system reforms

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