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HHS Announces New, Refined Survey Standards to Examine, Help Eliminate Differences in Care Based on Race, Ethnicity, Sex, Primary Language, or Disability

On October 31, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released final standards to more consistently measure race, ethnicity, sex, primary language, and disability status, thereby improving our ability to highlight disparities in health status and target interventions to reduce these disparities.

The Affordable Care Act requires new standards for the collection and reporting of health care information based on race, ethnicity, sex, and primary language. Making data standards consistent will help identify the significant health differences that often exist between and within ethnic groups, particularly among Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and Pacific Islander populations. The new data collection requirements also will improve researchers’ ability to consistently monitor more dimensions of health disparities among people with disabilities. Collection of all data will take place under HHS’ longstanding, strict commitment to protecting privacy.

The standards, effective upon publication after accepting comments on proposed standards, apply to health surveys sponsored by HHS, where respondents either self-report information or a knowledgeable person responds for all members of a household. The standards will be used in all new surveys and at the time of major revisions to current surveys.

For more information on the final data standards, visit the Office of Minority Health website.

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