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07/29/2022

Aetna Better Health of California awards NCQA ‘Multicultural Health Care Distinction’

NCQA's Multicultural Health Care Distinction recognizes organizations that lead the market in providing culturally and linguistically sensitive services, and work to reduce healthcare disparities.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
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Aetna Better Health of California, a CVS Health company, has earned the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s Multicultural Health Care Distinction, which recognizes organizations that lead the market in providing culturally and linguistically sensitive services, and work to reduce healthcare disparities.

The program evaluates how well an organization complies with standards for:

  • Collecting race/ethnicity and language data;
  • Providing language assistance;
  • Cultural responsiveness;
  • Quality improvement of culturally linguistic appropriate services; and
  • Reduction of healthcare disparities.

“Medicaid members whose first language is not English and who have low health literacy are at higher risk for health system navigation challenges,” said Verne Brizendine, CEO of Aetna Better Health of California. “Reducing health disparities begins with supporting the communications needs of diverse multicultural members and effectively utilizing health data to better serve them. We’re focused on advancing health equity in California, and we’re pleased that NCQA has recognized our efforts.” 

[Read more: New Aetna plan leverages CVS Health's enterprise strengths] 

An important step in overcoming health disparities is ensuring Medicaid members understand the services available to them. Aetna Better Health of California helps members begin to navigate the healthcare system as soon as they enroll in the health plan. New Member Welcome Classes demonstrate how to access and navigate the Aetna website and member portal, as well as how to select member preferences including communication preferences, contact information, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, race/ethnicity and preferred pronouns.

In addition, interpretation services are offered to members who speak any of California’s threshold languages, which are specific common languages spoken in a given area. The results have been significant, reflecting an increase in the number of preventive care and ambulatory visits by Medicaid members. Specifically, in 2019, Aetna Better Health of California’s HEDIS measure for Adults Access to Preventive/Ambulatory Health Services increased by 23.6% for Hispanic members and by 38.4% for Asian/Pacific Islanders.

Aetna Better Health of California also has been working to improve the health of communities in the state by leading COVID-19 vaccination distribution and education efforts. Beginning in September of 2021, the plan participated with the state in a COVID-19 vaccine incentive campaign, which included reward cards and outreach to members from a team trained in vaccine hesitancy. Aetna analyzed population health data to establish priority areas of focus based on vaccination status.

[Read more: Aetna Better Health of Kansas donates $125K to support Kansas communities]

As of January 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Aetna’s Medi-Cal members in Sacramento and San Diego counties improved by 14% overall, by 18% in youth ages 12 to 25 years old and by 26% in the Black population, which is a key area of focus given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on communities of color.

Aetna Better Health of California serves a diverse population of approximately 44,000 members in Sacramento and San Diego counties.

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