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Support grows for Meritus Health’s goal to reduce health disparities

March 7, 2023 - Diversity and Health Equity

Meritus Health, the largest healthcare provider in Western Maryland, continues to gain support in advancing health equity. The health system has been awarded a $49,000 grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to be implemented through the AARP Leaders in Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Collaborative.

The idea stemmed from the work of Maulik Joshi, Dr.P.H., president and CEO of Meritus, and his desire to address health disparities, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This work is a necessity, not a nicety,” Joshi said of the collaborative. “We are thankful for the support of CareFirst in our work,” he added.

In October 2022, a group of committed healthcare leaders representing 32 organizations across multiple mid-Atlantic states set goals to reduce health disparities among aging populations. Each member has committed to at least one of three key goals: 

  • Reduce health disparities in the community
  • Address social determinants of health
  • Increase diversity in their organization’s leadership

 Joshi noted, “The LEAD Collaborative is about improvement in results. The participating collaborative organizations are committed to testing, learning and sharing, with a focus towards meaningful, measurable change. That is what makes these organizations leaders in making health and healthcare better for all.”

According to AARP research, if no action is taken, the annual economic cost to the U.S. GDP caused by racial disparities in life expectancy alone is expected to reach $1.6 trillion in 2030, and could result in an annual loss of $1.1 trillion in total consumer spending.

The LEAD Collaborative has been supported generously by the thought leadership of AARP.

The CareFirst grant money will be distributed amongst LEAD Collaborative participating organizations in two ways:

  • Testing Grants to support LEAD collaborative organizations in their testing of improvements and
  • Sustainability Grants awarded at the end of 2023 for LEAD Collaborative organizations to further and sustain their work in health equity.

For more information about the LEAD Collaborative or to join, please visit 

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