One of BHT’s charges has always been “Health for All,” which goes back to our founding with the launch of the Navigator Network that has worked to dramatically reduce the regional uninsured rate to under 5%. Health insurance is one key to accessing health care, however for many, there are far more barriers to overcome before actually receiving services and living a healthy life. Evidence of these barriers shows up in the stark differences in health outcomes for people in disadvantaged ethnic and social groups, or health disparities. As our work has expanded with the Accountable Community of Health movement, this notion of ensuring Health for All has evolved from a charge to ensure community wide health access, to dedicating our efforts to ensuring health equity.
BHT aligns with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation definition of health equity as meaning, “Everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care.”
Through Medicaid Transformation, we are building a whole person care system, and it is crucial that we apply a health equity lens at all levels of our work. As we implement projects to better connect systems of care, we must look for opportunities to prioritize activities that help meet the holistic needs of the patient and make positive outcomes. Opportunities could include things like offering culturally specific, multi-lingual services for diverse patient populations, taking a trauma informed approach that recognizes the influences of Adverse Childhood Experiences and generational trauma on health and behavior, and employing a workforce with a range of diversity that mirrors the populations we serve.
It is important that while we stay focused on meeting the outcomes of transformation, we don’t miss the opportunity to influence a much needed culture shift towards health equity.