May 13, 2022
Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) introduced H.R. 7755, the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment (EMMT) Act, in the House of Representatives. This legislation would advance health equity and access to care for minority communities by requiring the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to work with experts to consider health disparities when developing payment models. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) on April 7.
“Our late colleague, Congressman John Lewis, knew that in order to achieve true justice, we must be intentional about increasing access to health care for communities of color,” said Rep. Sewell. “As co-chair of the Ways and Means Committee’s Racial Equity Initiative, I’m committed to advancing his legacy by bringing health equity to the forefront of our policy agenda. By ensuring that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation considers the impact of new payment models on communities of color, the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act will help us reduce racial disparities and build a fairer and more just health care system. I’m proud to join Senator Booker in introducing this bill and urge my colleagues to give it their full support.”
“The current health care system contains numerous disparities in health equity and access to care, a fact that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Booker. “My dear colleague John Lewis understood this and fought to make our health care system fairer. I am proud to continue this fight with this bicameral legislation that would make critical reforms to our health care system, helping our nation address health disparities and improve health outcomes, especially for underserved communities.”
Established by the Affordable Care Act, CMMI works to develop, test, and implement new value-based payment models. Under current law, however, CMMI is not required to consider social determinants of health—such as a patient’s environment, education, and economic status—when implementing and testing new payment models. The current status quo incentivizes health providers to pick patients who will produce favorable clinical outcomes, which leaves women, people in rural communities, and Black and Brown people sidelined in the development of payment models.
The John Lewis EMMT Act would direct CMMI to consult with experts on health disparities, such as the Office of Minority Health of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and the Office on Women’s Health, on developing new payment models that focus not only on lowering costs but also advancing health equity and improving access to care.
Specifically, the John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act directs CMMI to:
- Consider a model’s impact on access to care for people of color, women, and people in rural areas, in addition to cost and quality.
- Include experts in health disparities and social determinants of health during the evaluation and review process for new payment models.
- Directs CMMI to create a Social Determinants of Health Model that focuses on health conditions of those dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare, behavioral health, and maternal mortality.
“Movement is Life applauds Representative Sewell for her leadership in addressing the disparities in healthcare that are hurting so many in our country,” said Mary O’Connor, MD and Chair of Movement is Life. “By addressing how payment models are created—with a focus on promoting health equity—this landmark legislation will help address the systemic racism and discrimination present in our healthcare system and support access for all to the high quality care we would each want for ourselves and our loved ones.”
“Congressman John Lewis worked tirelessly to ensure that Medicare supported every beneficiary, in every community,” said Barbara Petee, President of the Root Cause Coalition. “In rural or urban areas alike, we must come together, across sectors, to ensure care for those who are not as healthy or wealthy. The Root Cause Coalition applauds Representative Sewell for her ongoing leadership in health care. The John Lewis EMMT Act is a crucial step in addressing social determinants and improving health outcomes across the country.”
The John Lewis Equality in Medicare and Medicaid Treatment Act is also supported by:
- Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses
- Acenda Integrated Health
- Asian Services In Action, Inc.
- Beyond Hunger
- Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
- Center for Health and Social Care Integration at Rush University Medical Center
- Ceres Community Project
- Collaborative Consulting
- Communities of Excellence 2026
- Community Allies
- Community Servings
- Food for Thought
- Green and Healthy Homes Initiative
- Houston Food Bank
- Hunger To Health Collaboratory
- Institute for Advancing Health Value
- Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
- Loma Linda University Health
- Mid-Ohio Food Collective
- National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses (NAON)
- National Black Nurses Association
- Neighborhood Family Practice
- Open Hand Atlanta
- Operation Food Search
- Osteoarthritis Action Alliance
- Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation
- Population Health Analytics Association Incorporated
- Presbyterian Healthcare Services
- RWJBarnabas Health
- St. Louis Area Foodbank
- The Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio
- The MetroHealth System
- Toledo/Lucas County CareNet
- Town of Apex, North Carolina
- Wholesome Wave
The legislation enjoys the support of 5 original cosponsors in the House of Representatives: Reps. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Thomas Suozzi (NY-03), and Marilyn Strickland (WA-10).
The Senate version is cosponsored by Sens. Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
More information can be found here.