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MN Community Measurement and DHS Release Health Care Report Highlighting Disparities

Report compares care delivered to patients with public and private insurance.

MN Community Measurement (MNCM), an independent non-profit organization that collects and reports health care data to drive statewide system improvement, today released the 2017 Health Care Disparities Report with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). The report shows significant room for improvement in closing health care gaps for patients enrolled in state health plans.

The Health Care Disparities Report provides health care performance rates for patients enrolled in the managed care component of Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCP), including Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare. As enrollment in these programs continues to increase, the Health Care Disparities Report helps the state and health care providers identify opportunities to improve health care and health outcomes for people served by state programs. DHS contracts with MNCM to produce the report.

Overall, patients enrolled in MHCP managed care received cancer screenings and immunizations less frequently than Minnesotans who have private or employer-based health insurance. Performance rates and health outcomes for MHCP patients who have asthma, depression or diabetes are also worse than privately insured patients. MHCP patients, when compared with the overall population of the state, are of lower socioeconomic status, include a disproportionate number of persons of color, and often experience barriers to care.

“The latest Health Care Disparities Report calls for community-wide action to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be healthy and get the care they need,” said Acting Human Services Commissioner Chuck Johnson. “This is the eleventh year of the report and, over time, statewide gaps in the care delivered to low-income Minnesotans have continued to narrow. We are hopeful that initiatives like the Integrated Health Partnerships – which encourage providers to work with one another and community organizations to address barriers to health – will continue to reduce the disparities identified in this report.”

This annual report reveals considerable disparities, highlighting three measures with the largest gaps – Childhood Immunization Status, Breast Cancer Screening and Colorectal Cancer Screening. The report includes medical group and clinic level results for 11 measures, as well as analysis by race/ethnicity and region.

Childhood Immunizations

Childhood Immunization Status rates, an updated measure this year, had a gap of 23 percentage points between patients with MHCP and other purchasers. This was the largest gap for any measure in this year’s report.

“While we can’t yet see trends for this Childhood Immunization measure, this large gap in childhood immunization rates between MHCP patients and others points to a need for close attention,” said Julie Sonier, MNCM President. “Immunizations by age two are vital to childhood health.”

Vaccination is safe, effective and can protect children from serious illness. Vaccine-preventable diseases are still a threat, resulting in hospitalizations and deaths every year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, approximately 300 children in the United States die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Eight medical groups had above average Childhood Immunization Status rates for MHCP patients, with HealthEast Clinics having the highest rate at 59 percent.

Disparities in Cancer Screenings

Colorectal Cancer Screening and Breast Cancer Screening also had large gaps in this year’s Health Care Disparities Report. There was a 20 percentage point gap between MHCP adult patients and patients with other insurance for Breast Cancer Screening and a 19 percentage point gap for Colorectal Cancer Screening.

The American Cancer Society website has specific recommendations for cancer screenings and guidelines for early detection of cancer. These cancer measures have had consistent gaps for many years between MHCP patients and patients with other forms of insurance.

Despite the gaps, MHCP patients have seen improved health outcomes in many areas measured since the first Health Care Disparities Report was issued over 10 years ago. Since 2011, for example, nearly 9,700 more MHCP patients have been screened for colorectal cancer.

Medical Group Highlights

There were five medical groups with above average ratings for the MHCP population in all three measures (Childhood Immunization Status, Breast Cancer Screening and Colorectal Cancer Screening):

  • Allina Health
  • CentraCare Health
  • HealthPartners Clinics
  • Mankato Clinic, Ltd.
  • Mayo Clinic

“Progress is being made, but gaps in many of these areas still exist,” said Sonier. “It’s encouraging to see improvements over time. As a community, we all have a role to play in closing these gaps and making sure that disparities between MHCP patients and patients with other types of insurance are diminished.”

For the full list of medical groups and more information on these measures, view the report online at http://mncm.org/health-care-disparities-report/.

 About the Health Care Disparities Report

In 2016, more than 900,000 Minnesotans received health care coverage through Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare programs overseen by the Department of Human Services (DHS). MNCM has partnered with DHS to produce the Health Care Disparities Report since 2007. This report supplies objective, transparent data that can be used to evaluate performance and identify improvement opportunities. To view the full report, visit: http://mncm.org/health-care-disparities-report/.

About MN Community Measurement

MN Community Measurement is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving health by publicly reporting health care information. A trusted source of health care data and public reporting on quality, cost and patient experience since 2003, MNCM works with medical groups, health plans, employers, consumers and state agencies to spur quality improvement, reduce health care costs and maximize value. Learn more at MNCM.org.


Contact: Rachel Enerson, Neuger Communications Group

enerson@neuger.com, 612-664-0700 (office) or 507-696-9207 (cell)