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Report: Minnesota's Medicaid needs more culturally relevant care, community access

Apr 06, 2022 05:37AM ● By Editor
Photo: MN Dept. of Human Services

By Samantha HoangLong from Fox 9 News • April 5, 2022 

A new report from the Minnesota Department of Human Services recommends changes in the state’s Medicaid program to improve racial equity for Black Minnesotans born in the U.S.

Some of the worst health disparities occur in the Black American community. DHS says Black Minnesotans born in the U.S. have three times the rate of asthma, depression, and heart failure and heart conditions leading to hospitalization.

"There is a clear sense of urgency. The interviews and data that comprise this report confirm the indisputable fact that Minnesota has a staggering racial health equity problem," the report states.

The "Building Racial Equity into the Walls of Minnesota Medicaid: A Focus on U.S.-born Black Minnesotans" report provides three calls to action for how Medicaid can better address health equity:

  • Make it easier to enroll and renew coverage: Simplified enrollment and renewal processes will lead to more consistent coverage for eligible Black Minnesotans. Working with "navigators" within the community can also help with these barriers.
  • Expand access to culturally relevant care: Cultural competency, awareness and knowledge is essential to tackling health disparities within the community. Part of being able to provide culturally relevant care is prioritizing the standardization and disaggregation of race, ethnicity and language data.
  • Engage the community in the process of creating policy for Medicaid: Authentic, consistent and intentional efforts must be made for community engagement to be successful. Partnerships with community partners should be long-lasting, consistent, and well-funded.

Overall, the report suggests for Medicaid to invest in an internal structure that has a specific focus on the U.S.-born Black Minnesotan community to ensure a sustained and intentional effort in closing health gaps.

"While Minnesota’s racial health disparities have been known to those in the field for decades, the murder of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the issue straight to the forefront of the public’s awareness. These historic events made Minnesota’s health and racial disparities international news and finally impossible to ignore," the report states.

In the making of the report led by Medicaid medical director Dr. Nathan Chomilo, several Black Minnesotan community members provided input and feedback about their experiences with Medicaid and getting health care.

Those who are interested in learning more about the report’s findings can attend community conversations on April 19 and May 9. Register here.

Read the full report here.

To see the original story and read related reporting, follow this link to the Fox 9 News website. 

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