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Comptroller Braswell issues health equity analysis of government health plan - Office of the State Comptroller

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Study shows the effectiveness of the preventive care initiative in combating inequality in health care

Financial watchdog Natalie Braswell on Monday released a detailed health equity analysis of the state’s employee health plan, the first of its kind, and a corresponding series of recommendations to reduce racial and gender disparities across the state.

Braswell and Governor Ned Lamont emphasized the importance of preventive care in combating racial inequality in health care, citing the state’s successful health promotion program that is credited with reducing racial and ethnic disparities in cancer screening and chronic disease management.

“By prioritizing preventative care, and removing barriers between patients and their doctors, the state’s plan effectively combats the racial disparities that typically plague the health care system,” he said. Controller Natalie Braswell. “Since implementing HEP, my office has heard from many members who were able to detect cancer early and now credit the program with saving their lives. Everyone in Connecticut deserves access to similar programs, no matter where they work or live.”

“Life-saving preventive care should be accessible to everyone in our state,” he said. Governor Ned Lamont. Regular checkups can detect the disease in its early stages, protecting patients from disastrous health and financial outcomes. Our management has prioritized expanding access to these services to counter racial inequality and improve public health. I will continue to work directly with all parts of our healthcare sector to ensure that every Connecticut resident can get and afford the care they need.”

This last year’s budget amendment (Public Law 22-118) includes a provision introduced by the governor’s administration to require health care companies to provide versions of HEP for their registered members. These plans must be available by January 1, 2024.

Health justice analysis compares prescription drug and prescription drug claims in the state’s employee health plan to a benchmark for nearly 100 other health plans, including multi-employer and public sector plans, which cover nearly two million members. Usage data has been used to measure racial and gender disparities in several key areas.

The state’s plan significantly outperformed the standard across all ethnic groups for breast, prostate, colorectal and cervical cancer screening. Nearly all ethnic groups also exceeded the standard measure of chronic disease management, including regular testing and adherence to medication. This is largely due to the plan’s preventative care initiatives that incentivize members to receive recommended age-based screenings.

Notable discrepancies were detected in emergency room visits. Black and Hispanic members were more likely to seek emergency care, and less likely to receive preventive visits. The same is true for low-income members and in geographies where provider access is limited. Participants on the non-white plan had a higher prevalence of diabetes.

The analysis was performed by Segal, an independent actuarial firm, and in consultation with Health Equity Solutions (HES), who collaborated in the study design and recommendations.

“HES commends the State Employees Health Plan’s commitment to health equity and its willingness to build on its efforts to ensure that all of its entrants have the opportunity to avoid preventable illnesses and injuries,” Aisha Clark, interim CEO of Health Equity Solutions. Health inequalities persist at all income levels, and this study shows that state employees are no exception. What’s exceptional is the State Comptroller’s commitment to assessing and addressing these inequalities, especially for blacks, Latinos/A’s, and other people of color enrolled in the state employee health plan. We are pleased to see the report released to the public and we look forward to seeing how recommendations are implemented to improve data collection and access to preventative healthcare.”

Among the report’s recommendations, the state health plan surveys members to identify causes of persistent disparities, expand member contacts, and continue to work directly with physicians, hospitals, and provider groups to remove barriers to care delivery.

More broadly, the recommendations include expanding preventive care statewide by introducing a version of the state’s Successful Health Improvement Program (HEP) to more residents. Increased access to affordable high-speed Internet is recommended to combat disparities in telehealth, particularly in low-income communities.

“This analysis shows several areas in which the state health plan is effectively combating persistent disparities in health care, particularly in cancer screenings and treatment for chronic conditions,” he said. Financial Controller Braswell. It also shows areas where there is room for improvement, and several recommendations that the state health plan and other health plans across the state can implement to address racial and gender disparities throughout the health care system. It is our shared responsibility to make health care affordable and accessible to everyone in Connecticut. Every healthcare institution should participate in this type of review to determine their strengths and weaknesses, and then act. We need more data, across the board, to better diagnose the causes of the disparities and continue to craft effective solutions.”

Comptroller Braswell manages the Connecticut Health Plan, the largest employer-based plan in the state, covering more than 250,000 state and municipal workers, retirees and their families. The analysis uses data from the state’s employee health plan, which is the largest and most robust data set.

The report can be viewed on the auditor’s website here:

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