Systems and Standards Insights
April 11, 2023

Children Who Experience Health Complexity Must Be A Primary Focus of Health Equity Efforts

By: Colleen Reuland, MS, Lydia Chiang, MD

This opinion piece from Oregon Pediatric Improvement Partnership (OPIP) highlights a model of health complexity they developed and offers recommendations for how to strategically use data to begin eliminating health disparities.

Children with medical or social complexity face many challenges and are at risk for lifelong health and social inequities. Research confirms that childhood experiences impact and predict future health, and inequities experienced in childhood have multi-generational effects. There is an urgent need for health systems to make children an intentional explicit priority in order to reduce and eliminate inequities. This is especially true within the Medicaid/Children’s Health Insurance programs that serve as a critical safety net for children with special health care needs and insure the most vulnerable, including the majority of children of color.