Bridging the Divide: Medicare’s Role in Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities

A growing body of evidence shows disparities in quality of care among Medicare beneficiaries of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. These disparities are particularly noteworthy in Medicare, which provides nearly universal access to care to the elderly without regard to race or ethnicity.

This suggests that quality of care, and not just access problems, underlie different treatment patterns among ethnic groups. Medicare can influence quality of care through its payment policy and conditions for participation, but what, if any, are the appropriate mechanisms to do so?

The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) convened a panel to study how the Medicare program can use its clout to help eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in care. The panel released its recommendations late last year. Separately, the federal Agency for Health Care Research and Quality recently released its annual report on the issue of health disparities, along with a related report on quality.

The Alliance for Health Reform and NASI sponsored a luncheon briefing to discuss these two important reports and the question of whether and how the Medicare program should use its considerable clout as a health care payer and player to move toward eliminating racial and ethnic disparities.

Panelists included: Renee Landers, Suffolk University Law School and a member of the NASI panel; Carolyn Clancy, Agency for Health Research and Quality; and Peter Bach, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated the panel.


Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Clancy Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Landers Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)