Changes in healthcare policy have affected how the Partnership addresses disparities in this cancer plan. In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation established provisions to improve access to cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. In addition, the ACA promotes changes for workforce development such as diversifying staff, integrating culturally and linguistically appropriate services (National CLAS Standards) and training in cultural competence.
In alignment with the Affordable Care Act, the CDC requires state cancer coalitions to promote health equity relating to cancer control to reduce disparities and improve health outcomes and quality in healthcare for racially, ethnically and culturally diverse populations.
The Partnership endorses the following five strategies, in accordance with this national priority:
- Enhanced Data Collection: Standard collection of race and ethnicity data, including an option for preferred language
- Strategic Planning: Organizational support, adoption and integration of National CLAS Standards
- Resource Allocation: Participation in local chronic disease and health access task forces
- Workforce Development: Workforce development in the areas of health equity, disparities reduction and culturally and linguistically appropriate care
- Coalition Diversity: Establish organizational policies and practices to include leadership representative of the population served.
The Partnership forges key alliances, addresses workforce capacity and maintains a public voice in the health disparities community across the state.
WORKFORCE AND EDUCATION
As a convening organization, the Connecticut Cancer Partnership has a unique opportunity to provide continuing education to members in the evolving healthcare landscape. In recent years, the Partnership launched a disparities internship program that focused on providing college students and recent graduates an opportunity to experience disparities-related cancer control projects and trainings. In addition, the Partnership has worked with state Area Health Education Centers to provide training to health professionals on National CLAS Standards, health literacy, patient navigation and motivational interviewing.
The ACA reauthorized a patient navigation program to connect patients with health care service coordinators to diagnose, treat and manage chronic disease. Patient navigators play a particularly important and growing role in cancer control. Also called community health workers, promotoras and health educators, many of these workers, based in their communities, are able to reach and connect with people in culturally appropriate ways. There is no uniform training, certification or reimbursement system in place at this time. To help fill this gap, the Partnership has sponsored a certification pilot program at Gateway Community College and hosted a conference to train and educate patient navigators.