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​Health Equity

Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Studies in Pennsylvania have shown that there is more than ten percent difference in access to well child visits between black infants and white infants. Furthermore, the life expectancy of a baby born in Pennsylvania is strongly tied to zip code. A newborn in certain census tracts of North Philadelphia has a life expectancy of 63 years, when just a couple miles to the south newborns are expected to live to 86. In the U.S., it has been estimated that the combined cost of health disparities and subsequent deaths due to inequitable care is $1.24 trillion dollars. Health shouldn't be predetermined by the color of your skin, the language that you speak, the country that you were born in, the zip code that you live in, the religion that you practice, or your sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity. As such, DHS has:

  • Created the new Equity Incentive Program, starting in 2020, which incentivizes Physical Health Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to achieve national benchmarks for Black members. The total eligible pool of incentives was $26 million in 2020. The Equity Incentive contained two quality measures in 2020, Timeliness of Prenatal Care (HEDIS®) and Well Child Visits (HEDIS®) and will grow to include measures for racial disparities in chronic condition management in 2021. 
  • Required Physical Health, Behavioral Health, and Community Health Choices MCOs to achieve or be working towards the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Distinction in Multicultural Health Care. The first MCO in the country to achieve the distinction is from Pennsylvania, and almost all Physical Health MCOs have now achieved the distinction. 
  • Created a new Maternity Care Bundled Payment (a type of value-based purchasing), that will reward providers that reduce racial inequities and achieve national benchmarks in physical health, behavioral health, social determinants of health, and health equity. This bundled payment aims to close racial disparities that lead to a 3:1 maternal mortality inequity between Black and White women. 
  • Launched the Regional Accountable Health Councils (RAHCs). RAHCs—comprised of payors, providers, and community-based organizations— will address health equity as a top priority and will use a collaborative regional approach to focus on communities with a high burden of disease called Health Equity Zones (HEZs). The RAHCs will work to identify the root causes of such disparities and will establish policies and interventions to reduce these disparities. View the RAHCs regions and membership.

DHS in collaboration with the Department of Health (DOH) has also launched the PA Health Equity Analysis Tool (HEAT). The PA HEAT is intended to provide a granular geographic perspective of areas that have significant opportunities to improve equity. 

The PA HEAT is available below. The tool is not compatible with Internet Explorer. For improved performance, download Tableau Reader® and then download PA HEAT by clicking the button in the bottom-right area of the tool. 

For information on how to use the tool, please see the PA HEAT user guide.

For video training on how to use the tool, please see the following videos: 
 
These efforts are part of the larger DHS strategy to promote racial equity. Read about these efforts in the 2021 Racial Equity Report.