New Data Standard Will Lead to Equitable Health

NMQF and BCBSA applaud the move toward data standardization around race and ethnicity but say more progress is needed

WASHINGTON – For the first time since 1997, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published revised federal standards for maintaining, collecting and presenting Federal data on race and ethnicity.

In September 2023, The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and the National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) founded the Data Equity Coalition aimed at improving health outcomes through more accurate and representative data.

Top priorities for the coalition include clear requirements for race, ethnicity, language and sexual orientation and gender identity data, disaggregated race/ethnicity collection as well as non-voluntary, uniform adoption of the updated OMB standard for all government agencies and private sector health care stakeholders.

Following today’s OMB announcement, BCBSA President and CEO Kim Keck and NMQF President and CEO Gary Puckrein released the respective statements:

Kim Keck, BCBSA President and CEO:

“Behind data are real people, and for the first time in nearly 30 years, we’re closer to the forms people fill out in the doctor’s office looking more like the diverse country we live in. It is a step that will help people feel seen, a critical factor to build much needed trust in health care.”

“We applaud OMB for making this critical change—and are proud of the work we’ve done with the National Minority Quality Forum—through the Data Equity Coalition— to get to this point.”

“We hope this is the first of many actions that the federal government will take to create a better system of health.”

Dr. Gary Puckrein, NMQF President and CEO:

“The National Minority Quality Forum welcomes this long-awaited update to OMB Statistical Policy Directive 15.”

“The OMB update represents a movement toward the establishment and standardization of a comprehensive data collection infrastructure that is the essential foundation of an American health services research, delivery, and financing enterprise that supports the diversity and intersectionality that is the American general population of the 21st Century and beyond.”

“NMQF’s mission is to reduce patient risk by assuring optimal care for all. Our vision is an American health services research, delivery, and financing system whose operating principle is to reduce patient risk for amenable morbidity and mortality while improving quality of life.

Within that context, partnering with BCBSA and other engaged organizations on data equity has been, and continues to be, logical and essential.”

The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association is an association of 35 independent, locally operated Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.