Race, Ethnicity and Language Data Collection
Public Act 21-35 Section 11 Mandate
Enacted in 2021, the goal of Public Act (PA) 21-35, is “to attain at least a seventy percent reduction in the racial disparities set forth in subdivisions (1) to (4), inclusive, of this subsection from the percentage of disparities determined by the commission on or before January 1, 2022.”
In pursuit of this goal, PA 21-35 Section 11, mandated the Office of Health Strategy (OHS) to develop race, ethnicity, and language (REL) data collection standards in alignment with the OHS Community and Clinical Integration Program (CCIP) recommendations, US Office of Management and Budget (OMB) race and ethnicity standards, and International Organization for Standardization (ISO), language standards, to enable the aggregation and disaggregation of REL data. OHS has since released multiple versions of the Data Standards and other guidance documentation to support those mandated to collect REL data.
More recently, OHS produced a Master Implementation Toolkit following a stakeholder engagement process which remains ongoing. The Toolkit resources include the REL Implementation Plan (Version 3.0) and the REL Data Collection Standards Document (Version 3.0), as well as several other informational resources intended to be a comprehensive framework for the collection of REL data.
PA 21-35 mandates uniform collection of REL data to support the Commission on Racial Equity in Public Health’s mission to create a comprehensive strategic plan to eliminate health disparities and inequities across sectors. Availability of REL data will also support development of targeted interventions to reduce racial disparities, and augment health care providers’ continuous efforts to provide high quality, effective, timely, patient-centered, equitable care to all patients, in Connecticut. The REL standards document enumerates how to uniformly collect and code self-reported race, ethnicity, and language by clients/patients. The information is self-reported by the client/patient. Clients/patients are not required to provide REL data to receive care or services, however entities mandated to collect REL data must do so in alignment with the OHS REL Data Collection Standards where applicable.
Entities covered under this mandate include “any state agency, board or commission that directly, or by contract with another entity, collects demographic data concerning the ancestry or ethnic origin, ethnicity, race or primary language of residents of the state in the context of health care or for the provision or receipt of health care services or for any public health purpose.” The entities include but are not limited to agencies and contractors that provide clinical services, behavioral health services, community health services and support, and public health services and surveillance. These include:
• Department of Social Services
• Office of Health Strategy
• Office of the Chief Medical Examiner
• Department of Children and Families
• Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
• Department of Developmental Services
• Department of Public Health
• Department of Veterans Affairs
• Department of Correction
Additionally, health care providers that have electronic health record (EHR) systems required to connect to and participate in the State-wide Health Information Exchange (Connie), must collect in their EHR system patient self-reported REL data in alignment with the OHS REL Data Collection Standards.