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September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

September is National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

The most commonly inherited blood disorder continues to have difficulties in high quality treatment options for adults living with the disease. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), an intensely painful blood disorder caused by red blood cells having an abnormal, sickle shape, affects over 100,000 United States citizens of all ethnicities but disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic populations, occurring, alarmingly, in 1 in every 365 Black or African American births and 1 out of every 16,300 Hispanic births.

SCD causes the body to create abnormally shaped red blood cells in the form of a “C” or sickle. These cells disrupt the normal flow of red blood cells in blood vessels, causing extreme, acute, and chronic pain episodes and failing to transfer oxygen to body tissues. Signs and symptoms of the disease include:

  • Pain Episodes or Crisis
  • Hand-Foot Syndrome
  • Acute Chest Syndrome
  • Infection
  • Eye Disease
  • Stroke

SCD can affect any ethnic group, but Black and Hispanic populations in the US are most heavily affected by the disease. An estimated 1 in every 13 black and African American births suffer from Sickle Cell Trait, abetting it in being the most commonly inherited disease.

Due to SCD having varying treatment options, only 25% of patients receive a standard of care recommended by current guidelines. Studies indicate patients of SCD, compared to other patients, do not receive adequate treatment for pain, or in appropriate doses.

September is National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month – a great opportunity to spread awareness of the disease, its insufficient treatments, and minority communities being affected in much higher numbers.

Additional resources, including a new video on SCD by The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of Minority Health, are available:

Press Contact

Kurt von Tish

Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and Obesity

Obesity plays a significant role in health and healthcare, with studies showing that obesity increases a person’s chances of chronic disease, including high blood
pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Studies have also shown that African American men and women have the highest rates of obesity among U.S. racial/ethnic groups.

When taking a holistic view of health equity, though, it is important to look at the root causes of an issue, as well as the fruits that are produced. For example, African Americans often have less access to healthy food than their counterparts in other racial/ethnic groups. In particular, neighborhoods that are considered “food deserts,” or areas with little to no healthy food options, are disproportionately likely to have large African American and Hispanic populations.

From a health equity standpoint, therefore, addressing obesity and its health risks requires that we also address issues like food access by providing Black and Hispanic communities with affordable, accessible, and healthy food options. Because advancing health equity is not just a matter of treating the “sickness,” but also treating the underlying factors that produced it.


To learn more, visit the following resource:

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month, which aims to call attention to the growth of poverty in America. The COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the issue for families and communities nationwide.

Poverty is a complex social issue; it can manifest in hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, disabilities, and social discrimination and exclusion, among other ways. People living in poverty having an increased risk of chronic conditions, lower life expectancy, and barriers to receiving quality healthcare.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Minority Health (OMH), 37.2 million Americans live in poverty, which is an increase of 3.3 million people since 2019. OMH also notes that in 2020, racial and ethnic minorities continued to be disproportionately affected by poverty, with the rates of poverty among Black (19.5%) and Hispanic (17%) Americans more than twice that of White Americans (8.2%).

CMS offers a number of resources to help  learn how to access health coverage, manage health care costs, and fully utilize benefits. For more information, visit https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/health-observances.

The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities also provides resources to combat poverty.

CMMI Charts Fresh Course for Next 10 Years

The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) outlined its goals to improve and expand healthcare delivery in Federal programs over the next 10 years in a new white paper released October 20.

The Innovation Center Strategy Refresh aims to bring “describes the Innovation Center’s refreshed vision and strategy and provides examples of approaches and efforts under consideration.” CMMI’s strategy includes five main objectives:

  • Drive accountable care: Increase the number of people in a care relationship with accountability for quality and total cost of care.
  • Advance healthy equity: Embed health equity in every aspect of CMMI’s models and increase focus on underserved populations.
  • Support care innovations: Leverage a range of supports that enable integrated, person-centered care.
  • Improve access by addressing affordability: Pursue strategies to address healthcare prices, affordability, and reduce unnecessary or duplicative care.
  • Partner to achieve system transformation: Align priorities and policies across the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and aggressively engage payers, purchasers states, and beneficiaries to improve quality, to achieve equitable outcomes, and to reduce healthcare costs.

CMMI's 5 Strategic Objectives for Advancing System Tranformation

Source: Innovation Center Strategy Refresh.

The refresh comes as CMMI enters its second decade after being created in 2010 as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Innovation Center launched more than 50 models in its first decade aimed at transitioning the U.S. health system to value-based care.

More information can be found here.

Econometrica Announces New Health Director

Econometrica Announces New Health Director

BETHESDA, MD – Econometrica is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristie McNealy to Health Director. Dr. McNealy joined Econometrica in 2013 and has exceled as a qualitative research and evaluation expert, project manager, and business development lead. She has 20 years of experience in research, clinical medicine, quality measure development, program evaluation and monitoring, and project management in a variety of healthcare fields.

As a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Dr. McNealy has worked on multiple programs related to improving and measuring the quality of care, including directing the development and testing of quality measures for the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), and has worked on contracts related to several Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) models, including Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Advanced, BPCI Model I, the Community-based Care Transitions Program (CCTP), Million Hearts, and Partnership for Patients (PfP), in roles including program evaluation, monitoring, and quality measurement strategy. She also has expertise in a variety of qualitative research techniques, including conducting structured telephone interviews and site visits and coding and content analysis.

Dr. McNealy takes over for Monique Sheppard, who has guided the Health Group for the last 10 years. Dr. Sheppard is moving into a company-wide business development role, where she will oversee several cross-group development projects, including promoting our joint venture, TAG Research LLC, and meeting with our clients and partners to market our ever-growing technical capabilities.

Dr. Sheppard is an epidemiologist and biostatistician with more than 28 years of experience in quantitative evaluation, data collection and analysis, national survey and evaluation projects, measure development, policy analysis, learning solutions, technical assistance and training, and rapid-cycle evaluation. She provides subject matter expertise and leadership guidance on projects for a variety of Federal and non-Federal clients. Her research has appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, American Journal of Health Education, and the Journal of Safety Research.

About Econometrica

Founded in 1998, Econometrica is a research and management organization in Bethesda, MD, established to provide public- and private-sector clients with customized program support services. Econometrica works with multiple agencies to provide high-quality, cost-effective analyses, modeling, and economic evaluations. The company consistently receives exceptional scores from its clients and believes in three principles: technical capabilities, happy customers, and business development.

As a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ), Dr. McNealy has worked on multiple programs related to improving and measuring the quality of care. She also has expertise in a variety of qualitative research techniques, including conducting structured telephone interviews and site visits and coding and content analysis.

Press Contact

Kurt von Tish