SECTION 1. The second paragraph of section 16 of chapter 6A of the General Laws, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 38 and 39, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, the words “and, (7) the health facilities appeals board” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- (7) the health facilities appeals board; and (8) the office of health equity.
SECTION 2. Section 16O of said chapter 6A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word, “recommendations” in line 3 and 4, the following words:- to the director of the office of health equity.
SECTION 3. Said section 16O of said chapter 6A, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after the words “ex officio”, in line 27, the following words:- ; the director of the office of health equity, or the director’s designee;
SECTION 4. Said chapter 6A is hereby further amended by inserting after section 16Y the following section:–
Section 16Z. (a) As used in this section the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:–
“Disparities”, differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific racial and ethnic groups.
“Office”, the office of health equity.
(b) There shall be an office of health equity within the executive office of health and human services. The office shall be under the supervision and control of a director who shall be appointed by and report to the secretary of health and human services. The health disparities council, established in section 16O, shall serve as an advisory board to the office.
(c) The office shall coordinate all activities of the commonwealth to eliminate racial and ethnic health and health care disparities. The office shall set goals for the reduction of disparities and prepare an annual plan for the commonwealth to eliminate disparities.
(d) The office shall collaborate with other state agencies of the commonwealth on disparities reduction initiatives to address the social factors that influence health inequality. The state agencies shall include, but shall not be limited to, the executive office of health and human services, the executive office of housing and economic development, the executive office of public safety and security, the executive office of energy and environmental affairs, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the executive office of labor and workforce development and the executive office of education. The office shall facilitate communication and partnership between these agencies to develop greater understanding of the intersections between agency activities and health outcomes. The office shall facilitate development of interagency initiatives to address the social and economic determinants of health disparity issues including, but not limited to, healthcare access and quality; housing availability and quality; transportation availability, location and cost; community policing and safe spaces; air, water, land usage and quality; employment and workforce development; and education access and quality.
(e) The office shall evaluate the effectiveness of programs and interventions to eliminate health disparities, identifying best practices and model programs for the state.
(f) The office shall prepare an annual health disparities report. The report shall evaluate the progress of the commonwealth toward eliminating racial and ethnic health disparities, using, where possible, quantifiable measures and comparative benchmarks and, where possible, shall detail such progress on a regional basis. The office shall hold public hearings in several regions of the commonwealth to gather public information on the topics of the report. The report shall be filed with the governor and the clerks of the house of representatives and senate and the members of the health disparities council, established under section 16O, and the health policy commission before July 1 2017 and before July 1 of each subsequent year thereafter. The report shall be posted on the official website of the commonwealth.
SECTION 5. Section 5 of chapter 6D, as appearing in the 2014 Official Edition, is hereby amended by adding the following sentence:- The commission shall establish goals that are intended to reduce health care disparities in racial, ethnic and disabled communities and in doing so shall seek to incorporate the recommendations of the health disparities council and the office of health equity.
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