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Aetna Better Health of California awarded NCQA Multicultural Health Care Distinction

July 28, 2022 |4 minute read time

A logo reads: Distinction - NCQA - Multicultural Health Care

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Aetna Better Health of California, a CVS Health company, today announced it has earned the National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA) Multicultural Health Care Distinction.

The Multicultural Health Care Distinction recognizes organizations that lead the market in providing culturally and linguistically sensitive services, and work to reduce health care disparities. The program evaluates how well an organization complies with standards for:

  • Collecting race/ethnicity and language data
  • Providing language assistance
  • Cultural responsiveness
  • Quality improvement of Culturally Linguistic Appropriate Services (CLAS)
  • Reduction of health care disparities

“Medicaid members whose first language is not English and who have low health literacy are at higher risk for health system navigation challenges,” said Verne Brizendine, CEO of Aetna Better Health of California. “Reducing health disparities begins with supporting the communications needs of diverse multicultural members and effectively utilizing health data to better serve them. We’re focused on advancing health equity in California, and we’re pleased that NCQA has recognized our efforts.”  

Improving access to health care by addressing language barriers

An important step in overcoming health disparities is ensuring Medicaid members understand the services available to them. Aetna Better Health of California helps members begin to navigate the health care system as soon as they enroll in the health plan. New Member Welcome Classes demonstrate how to access and navigate the Aetna website and member portal, as well as how to select member preferences including communication preferences, contact information, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, race/ethnicity and preferred pronouns. In addition, interpretation services are offered to members who speak any of California’s threshold languages, which are specific common languages spoken in a given area. The results have been significant, reflecting an increase in the number of preventive care and ambulatory visits by Medicaid members. Specifically, in 2019, Aetna Better Health of California’s HEDIS® measure for Adults Access to Preventive/Ambulatory Health Services increased by 23.6% for Hispanic members and by 38.4% for Asian/Pacific Islanders. 

Improving health equity during the COVID-19 pandemic

Aetna Better Health of California has been working to improve the health of communities in the state by leading COVID-19 vaccination distribution and education efforts. Beginning in September of 2021, the plan participated with the state in a COVID-19 vaccine incentive campaign, which included reward cards and outreach to members from a team trained in vaccine hesitancy. Aetna analyzed population health data to establish priority areas of focus based on vaccination status.

As of January of 2022, the COVID-19 vaccination rate among Aetna’s Medi-Cal members in Sacramento and San Diego counties improved by 14% overall, by 18% in youth age 12-25, and by 26% in the Black population, which is a key area of focus given the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on communities of color. 

Aetna Better Health of California serves a diverse population of approximately 44,000 members in Sacramento and San Diego counties. 

About NCQA

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care quality. NCQA accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. It also recognizes clinicians and practices in key areas of performance. NCQA’s Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®) is the most widely used performance measurement tool in health care. NCQA’s website ( contains information to help consumers, employers and others make more-informed health care choices. NCQA can be found online at, on Twitter @ncqa, on Facebook at and on LinkedIn at

About Aetna Medicaid

Aetna Medicaid Administrators LLC (Aetna Medicaid), a CVS Health company, has over 30 years of experience managing the care of the most medically vulnerable, using innovative approaches and a local presence in each market to achieve both successful health care results and effective cost outcomes. Aetna Medicaid has particular expertise serving high-need Medicaid members, including those who are dually eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. Currently, Aetna Medicaid owns and/or administers Medicaid managed health care plans under the names of Aetna Better Health and other affiliate names. Together, these plans serve approximately 2.8 million people in 16 states, including Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. For more information, see

About CVS Health

CVS Health® is the leading health solutions company, delivering care like no one else can. We reach more people and improve the health of communities across America through our local presence, digital channels and over 300,000 dedicated colleagues – including more than 40,000 physicians, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners. Wherever and whenever people need us, we help them with their health – whether that’s managing chronic diseases, staying compliant with their medications or accessing affordable health and wellness services in the most convenient ways. We help people navigate the health care system – and their personal health care – by improving access, lowering costs and being a trusted partner for every meaningful moment of health. And we do it all with heart, each and every day. Follow @CVSHealth on social media.

Media contact

Robert Joyce