The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), with support from The California Endowment, has recognized managed care plans for innovative programs that improve care for African Americans, Hispanics, Asians and other ethnic groups.

Five recipients of the 2008 Recognizing Innovation in Multicultural Health Care Awards developed solutions designed for African Americans in communities where they experience shorter life spans, higher rates of disease, higher blood pressure, lower breastfeeding rates, and less use of prevention and wellness services.

The gaps in care that persist for minorities and for non-English-speakers result in serious consequences: unnecessary disability and premature death for thousands, said NCQA President Margaret E. O™Kane. Any national health care reform effort must address these disparities.

Health care providers must be cognizant of their responsibility to provide care that is responsive to the needs of all Californians, said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment.

Winners were:

  • Aetna “ A hypertension-focused Culturally Competent Disease Management Program for African Americans.
  • Highmark Inc. (Pennsylvania)“A partnership with SilverSneakers® Fitness Program to increase African Americans™ participation in a fitness routine.
  • Keystone Mercy Health Plan (Pennsylvania) “ The Health Ministry Program’s 40-Day Journey,” a community, faith-based wellness program for African American women.
  • Molina Healthcare of Michigan “The Check Up or Check Out! program to address underutilization of preventive health care services among black males.
  • UnitedHealthcare (New York) “In-language walk-in centers to help Chinese seniors apply for Medicaid and other social service health programs through Oxford Health Plan.
  • UnitedHealthcare Latino Health Solutions “ An Enhanced Bilingual Service and Member Access Initiative to improve Spanish-speaking members™ interactions with the plan.
  • Virginia Premier Health Plan, Inc. “ A program to increase breastfeeding among African American women.
  • Wellpoint, Inc. “ A means to indirectly derive race and ethnicity information that produced maps showing health disparity hotspots, to support planning for improved services.

Health plan contacts:

Aetna: Wendy Morphew,, 212-457-0320

Highmark: Kimberly Scanish,, 717-302-4244

Keystone: Tonya Moody,, 215-863-5700

Molina: Sunny Yu,, 562-901-1039

United: Dan Miller,, 714-226-3726

Virginia: Pamela Lepley,, 804-828-6057

Wellpoint: Jill Becher,, 262-523-4764

More information is available on these programs from NCQA,, a private, independent non-profit organization dedicated to improving health care quality.

Daniel Danzig, 925-254-6078