U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

04/01/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/01/2024 07:11

OASH Health Equity Fact Sheet

The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) remains steadfast in its commitment to the Department's overarching mission of addressing inequities and promoting equity. In alignment with President Biden's Executive Orders 13985 and 14091, OASH offices and programs have taken significant steps towards advancing racial equity and providing support for underserved communities within the federal government, as highlighted below.

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

  • Development and implementation of the first-ever HHS Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Data Action Plan. This project seeks to make SOGI data collection the standard in health and human services data.
    Impact: This marks a significant advancement in data equity by tasking each HHS division with incorporating SOGI data elements into all data instruments that collect other demographic data.
  • Coordination of the HHS LGBTQI+ Coordinating Committee. This department-wide coordinating committee drives results-oriented policy change to advance the health and well-being of LGBTQI+ people who live in America.
    Impact: The Committee serves as a beacon of inclusivity, driving impactful change and advancing the well-being of LGBTQI+ matters.
  • Advancing Global LGBTQI+ Health Equity. OASH and OGA have facilitated HHS representation in interagency efforts to safeguard LGBTQI+ people from the harms of conversion therapy.
    Impact: Efforts included the finalization of the Interagency Action Plan to Combat Conversion Therapy Practices Globally and the response to Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act (including HHS participation in the interagency Business Advisory on Uganda).
  • Advancing LGBTQI+ access to care and health equity across the U.S. OASH has supported efforts across the Department to advance policies that improve access to and quality of care for LGBTQI+ communities, including proposed rules: Safe and Appropriate Placements, Older Americans Act, 1557, Grants, and 504.
    Impact: OASH supported the finalization of the new Guidance to the Industry on Blood and Plasma Donation which replaced the long-standing time-based men who have sex with men (MSM) deferral with an individual risk assessment where all donors are asked the same questions. OASH has supported proposed non-regulatory actions, such as CMS' proposed NCD on HIV PrEP and CDC's proposed clinical guidance on Doxycycline for STI post-exposure prophylaxis. These steps advance which advance equitable care for LGBTQI+ people.

Office of the Surgeon General

  • Behavioral Health Medical Accession Standards. The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps recommended updating mental health accession standards and permitting applicants with well-controlled HIV and chronic Hepatitis B, aiming to increase inclusiveness.
    Impact: This change is expected to decrease the number of applicants medically disqualified for certain behavioral health conditions, increase the pool of eligible applicants for the USPHS Commissioned Corps, and encourage officers to seek help for behavioral health conditions without fear of medical separation.

Office of Climate Change and Health Equity

  • Launched a "Catalytic Program" to support safety net health care providers by leading a three-month program on leveraging the Inflation Reduction Act for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and resilience investments.
    Impact: Supports essential hospitals, health centers, rural providers, and other safety net organizations looking to lower operating costs and better serve their communities.
  • Office of Environmental Justice Community Innovator Challenge is a national competition designed to identify innovative and effective approaches to enhance community-driven efforts addressing the health consequences of communities burdened by environmental and climate change-related hazards.
    Impact: Desired outcomes include the development of community-driven strategies and the application of data-driven tools to advance health equity, address environmental hazards, including those related to climate change, and mitigate the cumulative impacts of environmental and other stressors.
  • Development of the Clinician Referral Guide to help meet needs of climate-vulnerable populations to inform education and referrals in clinical settings for patients who are vulnerable to climate change's health impacts. This guide can be used by health and human services providers to address climate-related threats to their clients' well-being.
    Impact: Provides resources that can address patients' social determinants of health and mitigate health harms related to climate change.
  • Climate and Health Outlook and Portal serves as a monthly publication that features seasonal climate hazards, including interactive maps with county-level heat, wildfire, and drought forecasts for the current month. It also includes county-level data on individual risk factors that may make people more vulnerable to negative health outcomes from these climate hazards.
    Impact: Provides data and resources to inform vulnerable populations, health professionals, policymakers, and the public on how our health may be affected in the coming months by climate events and provides resources to take proactive action

Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

  • Healthy People 2030 Disparity Data provides population-based core objectives with available demographic group data. This feature includes 1,100+ customizable disparities data tables with dynamic summary measures to allow for a comprehensive understanding and tracking of health outcomes by various demographics. Addressing health disparities is key to achieving health equity and realizing the Healthy People vision of "a society in which all people can achieve their full potential for health and well-being across the lifespan."
    Impact: These actions were designed to educate the public and health care professionals about factors that result in health disparities to bring more attention to how we can achieve health equity. With Healthy People 2030's disparities data feature, professionals can easily track changes in disparities over the decade and see where increased efforts are needed.

Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy

  • The Summer of Pride Mpox Equity Pilot is a collaborative effort launched in 2023 aimed at improving Mpox vaccine equity for populations overrepresented in the outbreak but underrepresented in vaccine coverage. The strategy integrates Mpox vaccination promotion, awareness, testing, and STOMP study access with additional public health services, such as HIV/STI screening, linkage to HIV prevention and care, housing resources, mental health services, and harm reduction.
    Impact: This initiative focuses on 35 counties identified in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative with low or medium Mpox immunity and heightened outbreak risk. By collaborating with community-based organizations and targeting LGBTQI+ events predominantly attended by disproportionately affected groups, the initiative facilitates discussions between event organizers and local health departments, promoting holistic wellness plans with a syndemic approach to address various health domains.
  • Best Practices for COVID Vaccination and Testing of Underserved Populations. This study includes an environmental scan, a large national survey, site visits and convenings in states. This study includes local health departments, community health centers, pharmacies, tribal groups, and community-based organizations.
    Impact: Provides vaccination and testing strategies to improve vaccination uptake, confidence and access, and close vaccination disparities.

Office of Minority Health

  • Best Practice Guides for Advancing Equity for Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiians (NH)/Pacific Islanders (PI) Communities in COVID-19 Response Efforts. The objective is to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19.
    Impact: Provides guidance on ways to meet the specific language needs and preferences of AA & NH/PI communities in COVID-19 response activities.
  • The Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce, established by Executive Order 13995, is part of the government-wide effort to identify and eliminate health and social disparities that result in disproportionately higher rates of exposure, illness, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19
    Impact: Recommended actions and a proposed implementation plan to mitigate health inequities caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent such inequities in the future.
  • Hear Her ® for Indian Country, is a maternal health promotional campaign seeking to increase awareness of urgent maternal health warning signs and supporting health care providers culturally appropriate care,
    Impact: This campaign provides both women and healthcare providers with tools to actively engage in life-saving discussions, especially focusing on perinatal and prenatal care within American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) communities.

Office of Population Affairs

  • Expanded access to Title X family planning services by awarding funding to more grantees. Title X clinics ensure access to high-quality, client-centered family planning care for millions of people. In 2023, OPA awarded more than $263 million to Title X grant recipients nationwide.
    Impact: In 2023, OPA released the Family Planning Annual Report (FPAR) 2022 National Summary to show key findings about the Title X family planning program. Title X clinics provided family planning services to 2.6 million clients, almost 1 million more clients than in the previous year.
  • Launched the first-ever Adolescent Health Call to Action with specific focus on advancing health equity embedded throughout and highlighted as a specific goal, so that all adolescents in the United States can have the safety, support, and resources they need to thrive, be healthy, and have an equitable opportunity to realize their full potential.
    Impact: Take Action for Adolescents is the result of extensive collaboration and input from allies and partners, including federal government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, experts, and young people. It outlines eight goals and aligned initial action steps that you can customize to help create coordinated systems, services, and supports for young people.

Office on Women's Health

  • HHS Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Innovator Award Competition is seeking innovative ways to address the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on Black or African American women.
    Impact: This competition educates women on how to mitigate the impact of endocrine-disrupting chemicals. As a result, women are better prepared to avoid EDCs and achieve better health outcomes.
  • HHS Reducing Disparities in Breastfeeding Innovation Award Competition s seeking innovative ways to address the disparity in breastfeeding initiation or continuation among breastfeeding mothers.
    Impact: This competition increased breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates among Black/African American, Hispanic, and Native American mothers, and an increased number of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) that self-identify as African American.