Chapter 6A: Section 16O. Health disparities council; duties; composition; meetings; annual reports

Section 16O. (a) There shall be a health disparities council located within, but not subject to the control of, the executive office of health and human services. The council shall make recommendations to reduce and eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in access to quality health care and in health outcomes within the commonwealth, including disparities related to breast, cervical, prostate and colorectal cancers, strokes, and heart attacks, heart disease, diabetes, infant mortality, lupus, HIV/AIDS, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The council may consider environmental, housing and other relevant matters contributing to these disparities. The council shall make recommendations to increase racial and ethnic diversity in the health care workforce, including doctors, nurses and physician assistants. The council shall maintain ongoing communication and coordination with the health care quality and cost council, established in section 16K of chapter 6A.  

(b) The council shall consist of 37 members and shall be comprised of: 3 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be designated as co-chair by the speaker; 3 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be designated as co-chair by the senate president; the secretary of health and human services or his designee, who shall serve ex officio; the commissioner of public health or his designee, who shall serve ex officio; the director of multicultural health in the department of public health or his designee, who shall serve ex officio; the director of Medicaid or his designee, who shall serve ex officio; the attorney general or her designee, who shall serve ex officio; 8 persons from communities disproportionately affected by health disparities, 4 of whom shall be appointed by the speaker and 4 of whom shall be appointed by the senate president; and 18 persons appointed by the co-chairs, 1 from each list of nominees submitted by each of the following organizations: the American Cancer Society, Massachusetts Division, Inc.; the American Heart Association, Massachusetts Affiliate, Inc.; the Massachusetts General Hospital; Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospitals, Inc.; the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Inc.; the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers, Inc.; the Massachusetts Medical Society; the Massachusetts Hospital Association; the Boston public health commission, established in chapter 147 of the acts of 1995; the health department of the city of Springfield; the health department of the city of Worcester; the Massachusetts School Nurse Organization, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of Public Health Nurses, Inc.; the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, Inc.; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Inc.; the Program to Eliminate Health Disparities at the Harvard School of Public Health; the Boston Medical Center Corporation; and the Massachusetts Public Health Association. The representatives of nongovernmental organizations shall serve staggered 3-year terms. Vacancies of unexpired terms shall be filled within 60 days by the appropriate appointing authority.  

(c) The council shall meet at least bimonthly, at other times as determined by its rules, and when requested either by both co-chairs or by 1 co-chair and any 9 members.

(d) The council shall submit a report annually by July 1 to the governor, the health care cost and quality council and the general court, by filing the same with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives, the joint committee on health care financing and the joint committee on public health. The report shall include: (i) data on disparities in health care access and health outcomes; (ii) data on diversity in the health care workforce; (iii) recommendations for designing, implementing and improving programs and services; (iv) proposals for statutory and regulatory changes to reduce and eliminate disparities in access to quality health care services and health outcomes in the commonwealth; and (v) recommendations for improving diversity and cultural competency in the health care workforce.