State Strategies for Overcoming Barriers to Advance Health Equity

Prepared for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health and Value Strategies program

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted long-standing health inequities that have resulted in an increased risk of sickness and death for people of color. The crisis has also propelled a nationwide focus on understanding and addressing health inequities. As compared to white, non-Hispanic individuals, American Indians or Alaska Natives are over five times as likely to be hospitalized, and black or African-American individuals are over twice as likely to die from COVID-19.

While COVID-19 and the reckoning on racial justice have mobilized some state officials working in Medicaid, public health, insurance departments and Marketplaces alike, states are at different places on their journeys to confront systemic racism and inequities in healthcare, and each faces unique and challenging barriers. As early as August of this year, over one-third of states had launched task forces to take a closer look at health disparities (or differences in health based on population group) in response to the pandemic. These new task force efforts stand in contrast to decades of siloed and often poorly funded work to advance health equity by state offices of minority health or health equity. The new wave of state health equity activities aims to mitigate structural, institutional, political, financial and analytical barriers to ensure everyone has a fair opportunity to be as healthy as possible.

In a new issue brief for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s State Health and Value Strategies program, Manatt Health explores impediments and accelerants to advancing health equity as states are increasingly being called upon to drive change.

To read the full issue brief, click here.

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