Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012 (SB 234)
The law, signed April 10, 2012, establishes a $4 million pilot project to reduce health disparities in the state; improve health care access and outcomes such as infant mortality, obesity and cancer; and lower health costs and hospital readmissions. The law also contains a number of permanent provisions aimed at reducing health disparities.
Core aspects of the law:
- Create Health Enterprise Zones (HEZs) where health outreach will be targeted, with grants for community nonprofits and government agencies along with tax breaks for health care providers who come to practice there
- Establish a standardized way to collect data on race and ethnicity in health care (both public and private providers) and ensure carriers are working to track and reduce disparities
- Require hospitals to describe their efforts to track and reduce health care disparities
- Establishes a process to set criteria for health care providers on cultural competency and health literacy training and continuing education
To read the full law, visit Maryland Health Improvement and Disparities Reduction Act of 2012 (SB234)
Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (HB 86)
In 2004, House Bill 86 and Senate Bill 177 officially established Maryland’s Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (MHHD) in the state’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, effective Oct. 1, 2004.
The office works to eliminate health disparities by assessing the health status of all populations, engaging local communities and partnering with the public and private sector. We promote health equity among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and all other groups experiencing health disparities.
Core aspects of the law:
Advocate for improvement of minority health and preventive health care education efforts
Collect, analyze and report data on health disparities
Serve as a clearinghouse and resource library on health disparities
Develop a statewide plan to increase the number of minority health care professionals
Develop training courses and programs on cultural competency and health literacy with universities and colleges of health professional schools
Distribute grants to community-based health groups to promote the health of minority populations
To read the full law, visit Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities (HB 86)
Cultural and Linguistic Health Care Provider Competency Program (HB 756)
The law, effective Oct. 1, 2009, established a Cultural and Linguistic Health Care Provider Competency Program.
The program, coordinated by the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, offers educational classes to health care providers to improve their ability to communicate with patients who do not speak English or are from other cultures, incorporate the cultural beliefs and practices of patients in their diagnosis and treatment, and improve patients’ ability to understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health care decisions.