October 23, 2017
Diverse Elders Coalition urges CMS Innovation Center to identify and meet the needs of diverse older adults
By: Diverse Elders


Jenna McDavid, National Managing Coordinator

Today, the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC) submitted a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center in response to a request for feedback on a proposed new direction for the Center. In the DEC’s comments, we urged CMS to keep the needs of diverse older adults at the forefront of their work, and to make every effort to identify the diverse elders in the U.S. population by collecting comprehensive, disaggregated data about race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity.

Click here to read the letter.

By 2040, one in three older Americans will be a person of color or an American Indian/Alaska Native. Additionally, although largely invisible until very recently, LGBT older adults make up a significant (and growing) share of both the overall LGBT population and the larger 65+ population. These diverse older adults face some of the most extreme barriers to aging with dignity and in good health. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely to be uninsured relative to whites. People of color also face increased barriers to accessing care, receive poorer quality care, and experience worse health outcomes. And LGBT older adults experience discrimination, fear and uncertainty in the healthcare setting.

As the CMS Innovation Center engages consumers and tests out new models for service delivery, the DEC and its member organizations encourage the Center to collect comprehensive, disaggregated data on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity of the people being served.

The 2010 U.S. Census included a number of disaggregated data options for Latino identities and Asian American/Pacific Islander identities, and American Indians and Alaska Natives had the option to write in the name of their enrolled tribes. By continuing or even expanding upon the available options in the 2010 Census, the CMS Innovation Center, providers, and partner organizations will be able to identify the populations in greatest need for services, and conduct culturally and linguistically competent outreach to those populations. Additionally, data on consumers’ sexual orientation and gender identity, including opportunities for transgender and gender variant individuals to identify as such, will assist CMS in recognizing the unique health concerns of the LGBT communities.

For more information on the importance of disaggregated data collection to diverse elders, click here.

“Our efforts to improve aging in diverse communities will ultimately only be successful if agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services work with us to identify and meet the needs of our communities,” said Jenna McDavid, National Managing Coordinator for the Diverse Elders Coalition. “We are grateful for the opportunity to highlight the importance of representation for our communities and look forward to CMS’ continued efforts to serve diverse older adults.”

The deadline to submit comments to the CMS Innovation Center on its proposed new direction is 11:59pm EST on November 20, 2017. For more information on the request for comments or to submit your own comment, visit https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/direction/.

To learn more about the Diverse Elders Coalition, visit www.diverseelders.org.