CMS looking for government-wide health equity data source

Written by Dave Nyczepir

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is trying to identify a central data source within government to collect information on the most vulnerable populations to ensure health equity.

Some quality Medicare and Medicaid programs already collect demographic data such as race, but it is not standardized across government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in health care nationwide, and CMS wants to make demographic data available to it in a central data repository so authorized users can access it to address disparities in its programs.

“What we think we have to do is actually look for another agency, and I hate to pick on the Social Security Administration, but everybody has a Social Security number,” Mark Plaugher said. , deputy director of the information systems group within the Centre. for Clinical Standards and Quality, at the AFCEA Bethesda Health IT Event on Thursday. “The highest where we can find those common denominators is how to actually collect that information.”

In the meantime, CCSQ is improving cross-program analyzes so that data collected by systems like the inpatient quality reporting program can support other programs.

CMS has partnered with states to share near real-time Medicaid data to identify dropped care, missed preventive services for children, declining dental and behavioral health services, and increased need for treatment of disorders related to substance use during the pandemic.

The agency last weekend launched the first module of the Medicaid and CHIP Financial (MACFin) system to automate state spending oversight and approvals for the program’s $670 billion.

“It’s huge because right now we have a lot of people doing a lot of manual labor in this space,” said Karen Shields, deputy director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. “And so we’ve been looking for this system to be one of the major improvements in our service delivery for a long time.”

The Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System (T-MSIS) brings together all Medicaid data and converts it into readable files for researchers and other users, providing a national view of how the program is being used. — including inequalities in the way people obtain benefits.

CMS is building a Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) data warehouse and using Data Connect to link sources for ease of use.

The agency also merges Medicare and Medicaid data to get a full picture of eligible duplicates, but still needs a system to understand which benefits were cut during public health emergencies and where they went, which remains “a big question mark” for CMS, Shields said. .

“The whole concept is not just to have a data warehouse,” she said. “But to have a place where stories can be built and told and understood and used to help.”

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