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Health Equity Timeline

30 Years of Advancing Health Equity

The Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Black and Minority Health (commonly referred to as the Heckler Report) was released 30 years ago and served to mobilize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) efforts to eliminate health and health care disparities.

This timeline highlights numerous milestones and activities related to health equity over the last thirty years.

Health Equity Timeline

  • 1985
  • Heckler Report

    The Secretary's Task Force releases its Report on Black and Minority Health, also known as the Heckler Report. It served to mobilize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) efforts to eliminate health and health care disparities.

  • 1986
  • Office of Minority Health

    Congress creates the Office of Minority Health (OMH) within HHS in response to the Heckler Report. OMH is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate disparities.

  • 1987
  • Resource Center

    The HHS Office of Minority Health launches its Resource Center, the nation's largest repository of information on health disparities issues.

  • 1990
  • Americans With Disabilities Act

    Congress passes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability.

  • Regional, State, and Territory Advancements

    OMH appointed Regional Minority Health Consultants (RMHCs) to work in the 10 HHS Regional Offices to help build networks of consumers and professionals working on minority health issues.

    State and territorial offices of minority health were created.

  • 1995
  • Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care

    The HHS Office of Minority Health establishes Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care (CLCCHC). Its mission is to collaborate with federal agencies and other public and private entities to enhance the ability of the health care system to effectively deliver linguistically appropriate and culturally competent health care to limited English-speaking populations.

  • 2000
  • Healthy People 2010

    HHS releases Healthy People 2010, which details a comprehensive, nationwide health promotion and disease prevention agenda, including the elimination of health disparities as a goal.

  • National CLAS Standards

    The HHS Office of Minority Health releases the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health Care to improve health care quality and advance health equity.

  • Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act

    Congress passes the Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act. This Act supports biomedical and behavioral research on minority health and health disparities, medical training for minorities and others, and the study and collection of data regarding minorities and other populations.

  • Executive Order 13166

    President Clinton issues Executive Order 13166 regarding improving access to services (provided by Federal agencies or their grantees) for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP). The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with LEP, and develop and implement a system to provide those services so those with LEP can have meaningful access to them.

  • National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities

    The Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act establishes the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Now an Institute, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities’ mission is to lead scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

  • LEP Guidance

    The HHS Office for Civil Rights issues the first LEP Guidance for working with individuals with limited English proficiency.

  • 2003
  • First National Healthcare Disparities Report

    The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality releases the first National Healthcare Disparities Report. This annual report, now part of the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report, measures trends in effectiveness of care, patient safety, timeliness of care, patient centeredness, and efficiency of care.

  • Unequal Treatment

    The Institute of Medicine publishes Unequal Treatment, which found that a large and consistent body of research underscores the existence of disparities.

  • Second LEP Guidance

    The HHS Office for Civil Rights issues second LEP Guidance for working with individuals with limited English proficiency.

  • 2004
  • Think Cultural Health

    The HHS Office of Minority Health launches Think Cultural Health, a website featuring information, continuing education opportunities, resources, and more for health and health care professionals to learn about culturally and linguistically appropriate services, or CLAS. Think Cultural Health is dedicated to advancing health equity at every point of contact and promoting culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

  • In the Nation's Compelling Interest

    The Institute of Medicine publishes In the Nation's Compelling Interest Published, which considers the benefits of greater racial and ethnic diversity, and identifies institutional and policy-level mechanisms to garner broad support among health professions leaders, community members, and other key stakeholders to implement these strategies.

  • Setting the Agenda for Research on Cultural Competence in Health Care

    The HHS Office of Minority Health and the HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality collaboratively released Setting the Agenda for Research on Cultural Competence in Health Care.

  • 2007
  • National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities

    The HHS Office of Minority Health leads the creation of the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities to mobilize a nationwide, comprehensive, community-driven, and sustained approach to combating health disparities and to move the nation toward achieving health equity.

  • 2008
  • Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008

    Congress passes the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008. MIPPA requires that the Office of Inspector General conduct a study examining Medicare and provider and plan compliance with OCR's Guidance.

  • 2009
  • Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement

    The Institute of Medicine releases Race, Ethnicity, and Language Data: Standardization for Health Care Quality Improvement Report Released, which underscores the importance of REAL data collection to identify, examine, and ultimately address health disparities.

  • 2010
  • Reauthorization of the HHS Office of Minority Health

    The HHS Office of Minority Health is reauthorized with the passing of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act

    Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act extends Federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, disability or age to any health program or activity receiving Federal funds; any program or activity administered by an executive agency; or any entity established under Title I of the Act.

  • Section 10334 of the Affordable Care Act

    Section 10334 of the Affordable Care Act establishes that the HHS Office of Minority Health will be transferred to the Office of the Secretary. In addition, the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities will be re-designated as the "National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities." Six individual Offices of Minority Health will also be established within the Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Healthy People 2020

    HHS releases Healthy People 2020 with an expanded health disparities goal to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.

  • National CLAS Standards Enhancement Initiative

    The HHS Office of Minority Health launches enhancement initiative for the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health Care.

  • Oral Health Initiative

    HHS announces its Oral Health Initiative, which seeks to improve the nation’s oral health by realigning existing resources and creating new activities. The key message of the initiative is that "Oral Health is Integral to Overall Health."

    As part of this initiative, the Office of Minority Health releases an e-learning program for oral health professionals, the Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals.

  • 2011
  • Strategic Plans to Reduce Health Disparities

    The HHS Office of Minority Health leads two strategic plans to reduce health disparities: the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity.

  • Executive Order 13166

    The Attorney General issues announcement regarding the Federal Government's renewed commitment to language access obligations under Executive Order 13166.

  • HHS Promotores de Salud Initiative

    HHS launches its Promotores de Salud Initiative, guided by a federal work group representing HHS agencies and coordinated by the HHS Office of Minority Health.

    As part of this initiative, the Office of Minority Health releases an e-learning program for promotores de salud, Promoviendo Decisiones Saludables y Cambios en la Comunidad.

  • Implementation Guidance on Data Collection Standards

    HHS issues Implementation Guidance on Data Collection Standards for Race, Ethnicity, Sex, Primary Language, and Disability Status, pursuant to Section 4302 of the Affordable Care Act.

  • 2013
  • National CLAS Standards

    The HHS Office of Minority Health releases the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care (the National CLAS Standards). The Standards establish a blueprint for health and health care organizations to implement and provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The Standards are intended to advance health equity, improve quality, and help eliminate health disparities.

  • 2014
  • National CLAS Standards

    The HHS Office of Minority Health launches its National CLAS Standards Implementation Initiative.

  • 2016
  • Nondiscrimination in Health Programs and Activities

    This final rule implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Section 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities. The final rule clarifies and codifies existing nondiscrimination requirements and sets forth new standards to implement Section 1557. The HHS Office for Civil Rights also issued a summary of the final rule.