Baltimore, MD—The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) today announced the creation of the Maryland Commission on Health Equity (MCHE), a new multi-agency commission charged with developing a statewide plan to improve health outcomes and increase health equity in Maryland. The commission will hold its first meeting on October 18.

“Reducing health inequalities and improving health outcomes requires a collaborative approach,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “The establishment of the Maryland Commission on Health Equity, providing dedicated resources and taking a data-driven approach will enable the state to examine disparities and find solutions to achieve impactful results.”

Established under the Shirley Nathan Pulliam Health Equity Act of 2021, the commission will work to align public and private stakeholder policies and advise on matters concerning racial, ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic health disparities. Two subcommittees will inform the commission’s work: the data advisory committee, which will make recommendations on data collection, needs and quality assurance through Maryland’s health information exchange, CRISP; and the health equity policy committee, which will advise on implementing a statewide health equity framework.

The MCHE will also support Maryland’s Statewide Integrated Health Improvement Strategy (SIHIS), which aligns efforts to reduce health outcome disparities in three key population health priorities: maternal and child health, overdose mortality and diabetes. As a critical component of Maryland’s Total Cost of Care Model, the SIHIS is integral to transforming care delivery, reducing medical spending, enhancing care quality and improving population health.

“Our commission is the latest initiative to help align interrelated statewide efforts that have the potential to make significant improvements in Marylanders’ lives,” said MDH Deputy Secretary for Health Care Financing and Medicaid Steven R. Schuh, who will serve as MCHE Chair. “We’re working not only within Maryland’s healthcare system to address disparities, but across the many systems that influence health outcomes.”

Commission members include:

  • Steven R. Schuh, Deputy Secretary for Health Care Financing, Maryland Department of Health
  • Mary Washington, Maryland Senate, District 43
  • Sheree Sample-Hughes, Maryland House of Delegates, District 37A
  • Leonard Croft, Elder Rights Program Manager, Department of Aging
  • Cassie Shirk, Director of Legislation and Governmental Affairs, Department of Agriculture
  • David R. Brinkley, Secretary, Department of Budget Management
  • Juliane Woepke, Executive Director, Maryland Economic Development Commission, Department of Commerce
  • Robert L. Green, Secretary, Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
  • Kirsten Robb-McGrath, Director of Health and Behavioral Health Policy, Department of Disabilities
  • Dr. Sylvia Lawson, Assistant Superintendent, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Erica S. Chapman, Special Assistant to the Director, Land and Materials Administration, Department of Environment
  • Jennifer A. Edwards, Director of Emergency Management, Department of General Services
  • Danielle Meister, Senior Policy Officer, Homelessness, Department of Housing and Community Development
  • Stephanie Cooke, Director, Child Protective Services and Family Preservation, Social Security Administration, Department of Human Services
  • Lance Schine, Deputy Secretary, Department of Information Technology
  • Keva S. Jackson, Executive Director, Office of Clinical Services, Department of Juvenile Services
  • Mary Keller, Special Grants Administrator, Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning, Department of Labor
  • Michelle Ramirez, Multicultural Outreach Coordinator, Maryland Department of Natural Resources
  • Kanishk Sharma, Director of Planning Data and Research, Department of Planning
  • Derek B. Peck, Captain, Maryland State Police
  • Gregory Slater, Secretary, Department of Transportation
  • Roslyn Jones, Women Veterans and Inclusion Manager, Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Dr. Aliya Jones, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health, MDH
  • Dr. Jinlene Chan, Deputy Secretary for Public Health, MDH
  • Kathleen A. Birrane, Commissioner, Maryland Insurance Administration
  • David Bishai, Harford County Health Officer, Maryland Association of County Health Officers

“I am honored and encouraged to be part of the MCHE. The commission is composed of accomplished experts with the knowledge and compassion to address the complicated, yet necessary, mission to make healthcare more equitable for both the recipients of care and the providers that administer care,” said Maryland Senator Mary Washington. “With my colleagues, I will strive to combat racial disparities and move forward to equity in care and health outcomes for the state of Maryland.”

“Health equity is good for all Marylanders. It means better and more affordable healthcare and better quality of life,” said Maryland Delegate Joseline A. Peña-Melynk, who represents District 21 and who introduced the legislation to create the commission. “We all deserve our best health. I am pleased to see the work of this commission getting underway.”

In addition to the appointed commission members, MDH Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Director Noel Brathwaite, Ph.D. and MDH Assistant Secretary for Health and Chief Medical Officer Jeffrey Woolford, M.D. will serve the commission in an advisory capacity.

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