Eric Whitaker, MD, MPH, is the Founder and Executive Chairman
of Zing Health. Photo provided by Zing Health.
Eric Whitaker, MD, MPH, is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Zing Health. Photo provided by Zing Health.


By Tia Carol Jones

A new health coalition has launched with the goal to support cost effective healthcare and increase access to healthcare for people of color, with a focus on seniors in the Midwest.

The Midwest Health Equity Coalition was created after a conversation between Eric Whitaker, MD, MPH,  Founder and Executive Chairman of Zing Health, and Healthcare Advisor Andy Slavitt, along with others in the healthcare industry. Slavitt, who is the former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, expressed that he wished there were more clinical models and more data that would help support his agency’s desire to meet their health equity goals.

“As a policy maker, you need people who are close to the ground, and to see what they see, see what the challenges are, so you can work on policy that can improve the situation,” Whitaker said. For the Midwest Health Equity Coalition health systems and health associations throughout the Midwest were contacted, with the idea to come together to reduce racial health disparities that affect seniors who have Diabetes and other Metabolic Syndrome to see if inroads could be made. The next topic the coalition would look at is behavioral health.

There will be six working groups, with the goal of being a though partner with the federal government around health equity. Those working groups include clinical model, data support model, benefit design, policy, marketing and outreach and payment.

With the working groups, the aim is to shine a light on best practices so they can be implemented throughout the country. For instance, because Whitaker’s Zing Health is a payer it can design benefits for people who have its insurance. At Zing Health, insulin is zero cost for those with Type 1 Diabetes. It is also covering the cost of Continuous Glucose Monitoring.

“This is an example of a technological inequity that we’re trying to solve. When new technology is introduced, it usually goes to the well to do initially, and over time, it makes it way to the more vulnerable population. This is an instance where, currently, there are no plans that are offering this at zero cost,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker believes if there are services that are not covered by other federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, health systems and healthcare centers should pay for things that are impactful, like the Continuous Glucose Monitoring. Zing Health is designing its benefits to meet the needs of seniors who need this kind of technology for their health.

Currently, Zing Health, CareJourney, Illinois Primary Health Care Association and Sinai are part of the Midwest Health Equity Coalition.

“There’s a lot of great work being done by the institutions in the Coalition and others, and we developed a compendium of best practices at these institutions as a living breathing document, that as new things are added, we can update the compendium,” Whitaker said. “This will allow other health systems, other FQHC (Fairly Qualified Health Care Systems) to replicate successes and learn from some of the work that’s already being done by some of our Coalition partners.”

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