Longstanding health disparities in the United States are well documented, but research into the causes for—and possible solutions to—these disparities is constrained by the lack of basic data collection on race and ethnicity on standard medical billing forms. The failure to include this data means that these forms cannot support any examination of the relationships between race/ethnicity and morbidity, access to care, or patient treatment.

In July, with the assistance of Democracy Forward, the Tennessee Justice Center, Community Catalyst, and Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College provided a comment to OMB, calling for this gap in data to be remedied. This comment was submitted as part of an OMB request for information on methods and leading practices for advancing equity and support for underserved communities through government.

Specifically, the comment asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to revise the relevant medical billing forms to include those missing data elements. This is a policy strategy that would advance equity, and it would involve negligible cost, since the two billing forms are already fully integrated into the healthcare system’s administrative infrastructure.

Read the entire comment here.