CMO Corner: Lawrence Magras, MD, MBA, FHM, FAAPL

Health Equity: Why it Matters

Improving health and healthcare calls for a focus on equity — equity of access, treatment, quality, and outcomes. Health equity is achieved when individuals have the opportunity to reach their full potential. . . read more

Current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, highlight the need for all in the United States, including the healthcare community, to address health disparities. While the community united and rallied in the face of a global pandemic, we need to bring that same sense of urgency to addressing health inequities in communities that have been historically marginalized.

HUSKY Health is committed to increasing access and improving the quality of care for underserved populations across Connecticut. In 2021, initiatives were launched that addressed: low-birth weight infants in Hispanic and Black/African American members; hypertension in at-risk Black/African American pregnant members; and cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Black/African American members. For the communities we serve, these are important initiatives.

Additionally, Community Health Network of Connecticut, Inc.® (CHNCT) has developed materials and programs based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Hear Her campaign. Although deaths related to pregnancy are rare, about 700 women still die each year in the United States from complications due to pregnancy. In addition, there are considerable racial disparities. American Indian, Alaska Native, and Black women are two to three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women.1 The Hear Her campaign supports the CDC’s efforts to prevent pregnancy-related deaths by sharing potentially life-saving messages about urgent warning signs.

CHNCT’s recent interventions related to the Hear Her campaign include:

  • Conducting monthly member perinatal learning groups and providing trainings on the Hear Her campaign at the HUSKY Health Member Advisory Workgroup
  • Providing ongoing training on the Hear Her campaign to CHNCT care management staff
  • Sharing information about the Hear Her campaign through the Healthy Connections provider newsletter
  • Presenting at the 2021 Racial Disparities in Maternal Morbidity and Mortality conference
  • Presenting to the CT Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Coalition

A presentation to the Women’s Services Practice Improvement Collaborative (WSPIC) is scheduled for May 25, 2022.

Furthermore, in 2021, we deployed a dashboard to identify and map current gaps in care and disparities related to social determinants of health (SDOH). The data obtained will be used to drive future initiatives.

While many of the more visible factors driving disparities in healthcare can be addressed through interventions that work to achieve a better balance in access, treatment, and health outcomes, some of the factors, such as language and subtle bias, are more difficult to see and quantify.

Language and the narratives related to racial and cultural differences can hinder efforts to reach the goal of equitable care for all. The CDC’s Health Equity Guiding Principles for Inclusive Communication emphasize the importance of addressing all people inclusively and respectfully. These principles are intended to assist health professionals in ensuring their communication adapts to the specific cultural, linguistic, environmental, and historical situation of each population they serve.

The principles include:

  • Using a health equity lens when framing information about health disparities
  • Considering the key principles, such as using person-first language and avoiding unintentional blaming
  • Using preferred terms for select population groups while recognizing that there isn’t always agreement on these terms
  • Considering how communications are developed, and looking for ways to develop more inclusive health communications products
  • Exploring other resources and references related to health equity communications

This rethinking of language is a necessary component to the work of advancing equity in healthcare. It is imperative that we as health professionals acknowledge how our practices, beliefs, and language can contribute to an unequal healthcare system. CultureVision™ is an easy-to-use database to assist you in understanding your patient’s beliefs and health practices, identifying the impact cultural issues have on medical decision-making, and limiting inadvertent bias in diagnosis and treatment. The CultureVision™ database is available on the HUSKY Health website at:

HUSKY Health looks forward to working with you to advance sustainable health policies and programs that support equitable access to high-quality patient care for all Connecticut Medicaid members.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Pregnancy-Related Deaths in the United States. Available at:, Accessed on February 25, 2022.

New Prior Authorization Portal Coming Soon

Community Health Network of Connecticut, Inc.® (CHNCT) will transition the current HUSKY Health medical authorization system to a new web-based platform on June 13, 2022 (inpatient emergent and inpatient/outpatient elective surgeries) and June 27, 2022 (MEDS, therapies, and home care). The new platform will interface with Change Healthcare’s InterQual® (IQ) evidence-based criteria, and may be used to view IQ criteria and submit prior authorization requests for most medical goods and services. . . read more

This medical authorization portal with IQ integration enables providers to initiate and process authorizations electronically, and gives providers real-time notification of approval for those services that meet IQ criteria

In addition to requesting a service authorization via the portal, providers will also have 24/7 ability to:

  • Verify member eligibility
  • Obtain authorization numbers
  • View authorization details, including authorization status
  • Attach clinical notes and documents to support medical necessity
  • View, print, and download approval letters

The software application will also notify providers when an authorization is not required and if the request is a duplicate.

When a provider enters the portal, the software application electronically guides the provider through a service-specific template. It prompts the provider to enter information specific to the member. Relevant medical record documentation in support of the request is required for the authorization.

Once the provider has entered all clinical information, the software application automatically launches IQ and leads the provider through the appropriate IQ clinical algorithm, immediately approves the request when it meets IQ criteria, and provides an authorization number. The software application then notifies the provider that an authorization letter is available for printing or download, which will include all pertinent authorization information such as codes authorized, date span, and authorization number.

If IQ criteria are not met, the software application instantly informs the provider that the request is pended for a person-centered medical necessity review. When this happens, the request flows into a service-specific work queue for clinical review by the Utilization Management (UM) team. The UM team performs a timely review of all pended requests within the established timeframes.

This technology:

  • Provides fast, secure connectivity
  • Reduces administrative burden
  • Improves member access to care

The following portal training sessions will be offered:

  • Inpatient Emergency Hospitalizations
  • Medical Equipment, Devices and Supplies (MEDS) and Therapies (PT/OT/ST)
  • Elective Surgeries – Inpatient and Outpatient
  • Home Care

For a list of dates and to register, click here.

For additional information, please read DSS Provider Bulletin 2022-25: New Medical Authorization Portal.