October 19, 2001

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: CMS-2104-P
P.O. Box 8016
Baltimore, MD 21244-8016

Attention: CMS-2104-P
Medicaid Program: Medicaid Managed Care


The National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics has a long history of interest in issues of race and ethnicity in health data and health statistics. The Committee has provided advice to the Secretary of Health and Human Services on the necessity and benefits of collection of such data in monitoring the health of the nation to ensure a healthy population.

In considering issues pertaining to collection of data on race and ethnicity, the Committee would like to refer to its report: “Medicaid Managed Care Data Collection and Reporting.” In hearings it conducted, the Committee found that states varied in the type of enrollment data they collect, and heard from the field that collecting race and ethnicity data is essential in assessing access and quality of care received by minorities. The Committee made the following specific recommendation:

The Subcommittee/Committee recommends that HCFA encourage state Medicaid agencies to collect uniform enrollment data, including race and ethnicity data along with data on language, reason for eligibility (e.g. disability), and other demographic information as part of the enrollment process. The Subcommittee/Committee recommends that the format and content of race and ethnicity data be consistent with the Office of Management and Budget’s Standards for Maintaining, Collecting and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. The Subcommittee/Committee strongly encourages states to explicitly collect race and ethnicity data on the enrollment form, and to share that information with the MCOs to enable them to produce state-required reports along these dimensions. The Subcomittee/Committee also recommends that HCFA encourage state Medicaid agencies to ensure that enrollment data are, at a minimum, linkable to encounter data, and encourages each state to perform this linkage in a manner that is consistent with standards regarding the electronic transfer of data and with confidentiality and privacy practices and procedures.

A copy of the report is attached.

The Committee believes that without race- and ethnic-specific data, it will be difficult to evaluate efforts to eliminate disparities in health care, one of the longstanding priorities of the Department.

The Committee hopes that race and ethnicity will remain in the data collected for Medicaid managed care services, and that you will take this into consideration in your current deliberations.



John R. Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H.
Chair, National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics

cc: HHS Data Council Co-Chairs