Oregon’s Emphasis on Equity Shows Signs of Early Success for Black and American Indian Medicaid Enrollees
In 2012, Oregon transformed its Medicaid program, providing coverage through sixteen coordinated care organizations (CCOs). The state identified the elimination of health disparities as a priority for the CCOs, implementing a multipronged approach that included strategic planning, community health workers, and Regional Health Equity Coalitions. We used claims-based measures of utilization, access, and quality to assess baseline disparities and test for changes over time. Prior to the CCO intervention there were significant white-black and white–American Indian/Alaska Native disparities in utilization measures and white-black disparities in quality measures. The CCOs’ transformation and implementation of health equity policies was associated with reductions in disparities in primary care visits and white-black differences in access to care, but no change in emergency department use, with higher visit rates persisting among black and American Indian/Alaska Native enrollees, compared to whites. States that encourage payers and systems to prioritize health equity could reduce racial and ethnic disparities for some measures in their Medicaid populations.