Understanding Health Disparities and Opportunities to Advance Health Equity

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Recorded On: 10/05/2021

Objectives of this session include: 

  • To foster communication and collaboration among grant makers and others 
  • To help strengthen the grant-making community’s knowledge, skills, and effectiveness 
  • To achieve better health through better philanthropy 

Cara V. James, PhD

President and CEO

Grantmakers In Health (GIH)

Dr. Cara James is president and CEO at Grantmakers In Health (GIH). Prior to joining GIH, she served as -director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) where she provided leadership, vision, and direction to advance the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and CMS goals related to reducing disparities and achieving health equity for vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic populations, persons with disabilities, sexual and gender minorities, and persons living in rural communities. Under her guidance, CMS: 

  • Developed its first CMS Equity Plan to Improve Quality in Medicare, its first Rural Health Strategy;
  • Created an ongoing initiative to help individuals understand their coverage and connect to care; Increased the collection and reporting of demographic data; and
  • Developed numerous resources to help stakeholders in their efforts to reduce disparities.

Before joining CMS, Dr. James served as director of the Disparities Policy Project and director of the Barbara Jordan Health Policy Scholars Program at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, where she was responsible for addressing a broad array of health and access-to-care issues for people of color and other underserved populations, including the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act, analyses of state-level disparities in health and access to care, and disparities in access to care among individuals living in health professional shortage areas. Prior to joining the foundation, she worked at Harvard University and The Picker Institute. She is a past member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Health and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and has served on several NASEM committees. She has published a number of peer-reviewed articles. Dr. James holds her doctorate in health policy and her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University.

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Understanding Health Disparities and Opportunities to Advance Health Equity