During NAMD 2022 Fall Conference, health equity occupied attention from Medicaid leaders across the country who have long been at the forefront of working to make their programs more inclusive and accessible to communities across the country.
On a panel led by Jamye Chapman, Senior Program Officer at the Center for Health Care Strategies, colleagues from Washington, D.C.-based Betty & Smith consulting provided some tips and concepts for how to make equity efforts more meaningful and more deeply rooted in community.
The panel began with these grounding questions:
- What does it mean to approach our work with “equity at the center”?
- How can we be more intentional and successful in building strategic communications that prioritize inclusivity?
Following are some key take aways from the discussion.
- When considering strategy, it is critical to start by defining what equity means for your organization and the individuals you serve.
- It is important to name the facts as they exist. Difficult conversations and realities will have to be faced. And that can’t happen until issues are acknowledged.
- Racial equity should be directly addressed in outward communications as much as possible. When racial equity is not consciously addressed it can often subconsciously replicate racism.
- The importance of a defining key issues like equity and inclusion is not just the act of the definition. It is the opportunity to have a dialogue with people in the room to whom those definitions pertain.
- Communities impacted by health care inequity must be at the strategy table and they must hold power at that table. Having everyone in the room is not the only goal, it is the first step. Inclusion without power is often tokenism.
- Like any other strategy pursued by an organization, equity work must be built with sustainability in mind. Systems were not constructed over night or in one meeting and they won’t be changed with a single effort.
- Consider language that is people first. Use language that states a person’s assets first, not their challenges.
- Access to information is not enough. Communities need information they can understand and use. Constantly work to improve the accessibility of content – alternative communication formats, materials in other language, ADA accessibility issues and readability are all ways that information can and should be made more accessible.