Seven health plans and two health systems were awarded Health Equity Accreditation Plus status.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has announced the first nine healthcare organizations to earn accreditation as part of its Health Equity Accreditation Plus advanced evaluation program. The designations were preceded by a pilot and NCQA's foundational Health Equity Accreditation program, both of which launched last fall.
- Nine healthcare organizations earned NCQA Health Equity Accreditation Plus.
These organizations, which include health systems and health plans, include:
- Aetna Better Health of Michigan, Inc.
- Geisinger Health Plan (Pa.)
- Health Net of California, Inc.
- Hennepin Healthcare (Minneapolis area)
- Molina Healthcare of California Partner Plan Inc.
- Novant Health's Coastal Communities, Greater Charlotte Market, Greater Winston-Salem Market
- Simply Healthcare Plans, Inc. an Elevance Health Company (Fla.)
- UnitedHealthcare Community Plan, Inc. (Mich.)
- UPMC For You, Inc. (Pa., Ohio, W.Va., Md.)
- These organizations were part of NCQA's HEA Accreditation Plus Pilot.
An evaluation pilot preceding HEA Accreditation Plus included the nine heath systems and plans that just received accreditation. Launched in December 2021, the pilot's purpose was to "test the concepts and application" of the HEA Accreditation Plus program, including its evaluation standards.
The pilot announcement noted that it was "the first measurement or evaluation service in NCQA's 31-year history to include health systems." Those systems were Hennepin Healthcare and Novant Health.
- The Plus designation builds on the NCQA's existing Health Equity Accreditation program.
HEA Plus advances the NCQA's existing Health Equity Accreditation program, launched in November 2021. The nine inaugural organizations have dually earned both the based HEA and Plus accreditations.
The base program includes three components:
- Building cultures that link to external health equity initiatives
- Collecting race, ethnicity, and language (REaL) data to support individuals' cultural and linguistic needs
- Identifying health equity and related care needs
Evaluation for Health Equity Accreditation began in July 2022. A planned NCQA report card update in October will reflect the health plans that have achieved the HEA and HEA Plus accreditations.
- HEA Accreditation Plus is for organizations "further along on their health equity journey"
HEA Plus organizations will be those focused not only on core data, need, and community factors, but also:
- Data that assesses social risk and need
- Strong partnerships with community-based organizations
- More in-depth patient and consumer engagement
- Social need referral systems and partners
"The success of these organizations in earning Health Equity Accreditation Plus is a credit to these health plans and health systems. It's also an important validation of the NCQA health equity standards," said NCQA director of Health Equity Initiatives Dr. Bryan O. Buckley, DrPH, MPH. "As more states require Health Equity Accreditation, these first organizations to earn Health Equity Accreditation Plus will stand out as examples for others to emulate."
Laura Beerman is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.