In an effort to reduce health disparities faced by minority communities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced new draft standards to assess how to more effectively collect and report data specific to classifications like race, sex or disability status, and that, under the Affordable Care Act, the department will now also collect LGBT community data.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced new draft standards for collecting and reporting data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, and announced the administrationís plans to begin collecting health data on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations. Both efforts aim to help researchers, policy makers, health providers and advocates to identify and address health disparities afflicting these communities.
“Health disparities have persistent and costly affects for minority communities, and the whole country,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Today we are taking critical steps toward ensuring the collection of useful national data on minority groups, including for the first time, LGBT populations. The data we will eventually collect in these efforts will serve as powerful tools and help us in our fight to end health disparities.”
Questions on sexual orientation could potentially be incorporated into the National Health Interview Survey, says the release, and the department also intends to convene research panels with national experts on the most effective way to collect gender identity-specific data.†Data collection efforts are expected to be underway by 2013
Secretary Sebelius said a period of preparation is necessary so as to ensure the department is asking the right questions, adding: “Sound data collection takes careful planning to ensure that accurate and actionable data is being recorded.”
You can read more on the reasons behind the department’s interest in classification-specific data below:
The proposed standards for collection and reporting of data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status in population health surveys are intended to help federal agencies refine their population health surveys in ways that will help researchers better understand health disparities and zero in on effective strategies for eliminating them.
The race and ethnicity standards, for example, will provide additional categories from which racial and ethnic differences in health care and outcomes can be examined in more detail, particularly among Asian, Hispanic/Latino and Pacific Islander populations. The disability standards would consist of six items that are already being used successfully in the Census Bureauís American Community Survey. It is intended to improve researchersí ability to monitor health disparities.
“These new data standards, once finalized, will help us target our research and tailor stronger solutions for underserved and minority communities,” HHS Director of the Office of Minority Health Dr. Garth Graham is quoted as saying in the release. “To fully understand and meet the needs of our communities, we must first thoroughly understand who we are serving,” he adds.
The new draft standards build on the department’s commitments under Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act which states the Secretary must ensure all federally conducted or supported health care or public health program, activity or survey collects and reports data on race, ethnicity, sex, primary language and disability status, as well as any other†disparity-vulnerable†demographic deemed appropriate by the Secretary.
Finally, the release notes:
The public may submit comments for 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.
For more information on improving data collection to reduce health disparities please click here.
For more information on improving data collection within the LGBT community please click here.
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