Photo: FG Trade/Getty Images
The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UnitedHealth Group, is making a $100 million commitment over 10 years to advance health equity, in what it framed as a continuation of its efforts to eliminate health disparities.
The new commitment was announced today at the Social Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C., by Patricia L. Lewis, UHG’s chief sustainability officer.
UHG said this was the largest single philanthropic commitment ever made by the United Health Foundation, and will focus specifically on helping build a racially and ethnically diverse health workforce.
Through philanthropic programs and partnerships, the funding will provide scholarships and support to 10,000 underrepresented future clinicians and upskilling health professionals to help in obtaining academic degrees or other professional credentials for clinical careers in medicine, nursing, midwifery, mental health and other specialties.
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
UHG said it had a long-standing commitment to advancing a more diverse health workforce, and has launched a number of initiatives aimed at that goal.
Among the initiatives is to train underrepresented students in healthcare technology fields. UHG cited National Science Foundation statistics indicating that Black, Hispanic and Native American people account for only 7.1% of the employed biological/biomedical and life sciences workforce. UHG has invested $10 million to support data science training at historically Black colleges and universities since 2017, it said.
Another initiative is to develop what UHG calls the “next generation healthcare workforce.” Since 2007, the United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative has partnered with nine organizations to provide more than 3,000 scholarships to diverse students across the U.S. The initiative, said UHG, has helped to increase the number of primary care providers ready to deliver personalized, culturally competent care, particularly in underserved communities.
THE LARGER TREND
The United Health Foundation was established by UnitedHealth Group in 1999 as a nonprofit, private foundation dedicated to improving health and healthcare.
Health equity has been an ongoing focus of the Biden Administration. At the HIMSS22 annual conference in Orlando, Florida in March, government officials stressed the importance of interoperability in helping to achieve equitable outcomes.
Data exchange is needed to understand gaps in the system, said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. CMS will soon publish a rule on enhanced data exchange, she said, giving no specific date.
Brooks-LaSure said President Joe Biden has made it clear that HHS and CMS should do everything they can to break down barriers to care.
ON THE RECORD
“Today, there are far too many barriers to good health that are disproportionately experienced by people of color, historically marginalized groups, and those with lower incomes,” said Lewis. “We are committed to leading the way, along with our partner organizations, in deploying tools, talent and resources to actively break down barriers, broaden access to care and make it easier for people to live healthier.”