HHS is committed to addressing inequities and advancing equity through assessing and changing policies, programs, and processes across the Department. Additionally, HHS is working to shift the culture, resources, and approaches to institutionalize and sustain a focus on equity over time.
The term ‘equity’ means the consistent and systematic treatment of all individuals in a fair, just, and impartial manner, including individuals who belong to communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, Indigenous and Native American, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander persons and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; persons who live in United States Territories and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality; and individuals who belong to multiple such communities.
Topics on this page: HHS Equity Action Plan | Equity Advances across the Department | Equity Strategies and Progress | About HHS’s Health Disparities Council and Equity Team | About Executive Orders 13985 and 14091
HHS Equity Action Plan
The Department's plan highlights five illustrative areas to advance equity. The Department is engaged in comprehensive work beyond those mentioned in the plan, to ensure equity is a central component of policy and programmatic decision-making.
Improve maternal health outcomes for rural, racial, and ethnic minority communities.
Prioritize the behavioral health of underserved populations.
Increase clinical research and trial diversity to support innovation.
Read Previous Plan: English (2022)
Equity Advances across the Department
The HHS Strategic Plan includes a strategic goal on equity and a cross-cutting principle to apply equity and inclusion throughout the plan.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has proposed a rule updating critical provisions that help persons with disabilities access health and human services under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft guidance on expectations for collecting race and ethnicity data in clinical studies of FDA-regulated medical products.
The 2023 updated Language Access Plan seeks to ensure greater access to the life-saving services that it provides for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and for people with disabilities.
The HHS strategy recent actions include finalizing a rule that expands access to life-saving medications for opioid use disorder, announcing that certain grant funds may now be used to purchase xylazine test strips (XTS), and releasing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) updated Overdose Prevention and Response Toolkit.
Led by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Center, the Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Access Model is designed to improve sickle cell disease health outcomes, increase access to cell and gene therapies, and lower health care costs for people receiving Medicaid.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) launched the Enhancing Maternal Health Initiative to address maternal mortality and maternal health disparities in partnership with mothers, grantees, community organizations, and local health officials across the country.
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released guidance to grant recipients regarding the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) program to help ensure eligible young adults gain access to resources that can provides rental assistance and supportive services to 18 to 24 year olds who have left or are transitioning out of foster care and may be at risk of experiencing homelessness.
The HHS Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Data Action Plan seeks to improve the collection of data related to the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people.
Through the Hear Her® campaign for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) People, the Office of Minority Health (OMH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners have developed tools for AI/AN women, their families and their providers to better engage in life-saving discussions and actions during pregnancy and postpartum.
Equity Strategies and Progress
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has made equity a central part of operations and developed a robust approach to advance equity across programs and processes, engaging parents, youth, and families.
About HHS’s Health Disparities Council and Equity Team
The HHS Health Disparities Council is the Department’s coordinating and advisory body on health, health disparities, and health equity for racial and ethnic minorities and other underserved and marginalized populations. The Council is co-chaired by the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) and the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), with executive director support from the Office of Minority Health (OMH). All divisions across HHS are represented on the Health Disparities Council and help to steer the Department’s work on equity.
The HHS Equity Team is a group comprised of leadership and staff from OASH, ASPE, and OMH, who plan activities of the Health Disparities Council, coordinate equity work across human services, public health, and health in the Department, and support the implementation of equity-related directives at HHS. The equity team also coordinates equity-focused resources and learning sessions for HHS staff, with the goal of engaging all staff in the work of removing barriers and advancing equity for all.
About Executive Orders 13985 and 14091
On the first day of the Biden-Harris Administration, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 on “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.” This Executive Order calls for a whole-of-government approach to advancing equity and opportunity in government practices, including management; policymaking (including through regulation and guidance); procurement, contracting, and budgeting; delivery of benefits and services; and data collection, reporting, and use, to tangibly improve the lives of every person across the nation.
On February 16, 2023, President Biden signed Executive Order 14091 on “Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.” This Executive Order reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to deliver equity and build an America in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.