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CMS Technical Instructions: Reporting Race and Ethnicity in the T-MSIS Eligible File

Technical Instruction History

Date Description of Change
6/29/2021 Original technical instructions issued
12/03/2021 Technical instructions updated in correspondence with data dictionary update to:
-    Add RACE (ELG213) valid value “Other” (018)
06/24/2022 Technical instructions updated in correspondence with the V3.0.0 data dictionary update to:
  • Add ETHNICITY-OTHER (ELG271) data element.
  • Rename AMERICAN-INDIAN-ALASKA-NATIVE-INDICATOR (ELG215) (formerly known as AMERICAN-INDIAN-ALASKAN-NATIVE-INDICATOR).

Brief Issue Description

This technical instruction document specifies requirements for reporting a beneficiary’s race in the RACE-INFORMATION-ELG00016 segment and ethnicity in the ETHNICITY-INFORMATION-ELG00015 segment both in the T-MSIS Eligible file. This document outlines the challenges of the differing standards for reporting race and ethnicity in T-MSIS. T-MSIS race and ethnicity values align with the 2011 Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data standards, which are more granular than the OMB standard values used on most states’ Medicaid applications. This document provides instruction for states to report the RACE (ELG213) and ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) data elements in T-MSIS to reconcile these differing standards, as well as information on how to report race information for beneficiaries that are multiracial.

Background Discussion

Race and ethnicity are two important beneficiary demographic data elements reported on the T-MSIS Eligible file and of interest to end users of T-MSIS data for analytic purposes. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires federal data collection efforts for health care to follow the 1997 OMB standards, although states can opt for more granular reporting as long as the categories reported  can be rolled up to the OMB standards.[1]The T-MSIS race and ethnicity data elements currently align with the 2011 HHS Data Collection Standards for Race, Ethnicity, Sex, Primary Language and Disability Status (HHS Data Standards) published by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation in October 2011. However, most states’ Medicaid applications collect race and ethnicity data at OMB standards, which is less granular.[2][3][4]As the HHS data standards for race and ethnicity roll up to the OMB standards, the categories of race for “Asian Indian”, “Chinese”, “Filipino”, “Japanese”, “Korean”, “Vietnamese”, and “Other Asian” roll up to the OMB standard for race value of “Asian” , and the HHS data standards for the categories of ethnicity for “Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a”, “Puerto Rican”, “Cuban”, and “Another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” roll up to the OMB standard ethnicity value of “Hispanic or Latino/a”..

Challenges

There is no single T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value that captures a “multiracial” value for those beneficiaries that identify as multiracial. This is consistent with OMB guidance that reporting more than one race should take the form of multiple responses to a single question and not a single ‘‘multiracial’’ category.[5] Some states have had questions regarding how to report valid values when beneficiaries self-identify in two or more race categories. Additionally, some states’ applications/systems only allow beneficiaries to report a “multiracial” category and are unsure how to translate “multiracial” to T-MSIS. See examples on how states can report multiple race values in the T-MSIS Eligible file by reporting multiple RACE-INFORMATION-ELG00016 segments in the Technical Instructions section below.

Related T-MSIS Data Quality Measures and T-MSIS Technical Instruction

Race information is included in the calculation of a measure component for T-MSIS Priority Item (TPI) 32 – Beneficiary Demographics: Level 2. Please see the T-MSIS Guidance: Overview of Data Quality T-MSIS Priority Items.

  • Eligible beneficiaries with AMERICAN-INDIAN-ALASKA-NATIVE-INDICATOR (ELG215) (formerly known as AMERICAN-INDIAN-ALASKAN-INDICATOR)  = 1 but do not have RACE = 003 (American Indian or Alaska Native).
Race and ethnicity data are also assessed through other T-MSIS state data quality measures. Some examples of these measures are below. States should refer to the Data Quality Tool (DQT) for a full listing of current data quality measures. 
  • % of eligibles with unspecified, unknown, missing or invalid ethnicity
  • % of eligibles with unspecified, unknown, missing or invalid race
  • Ratio of errors for overlapping segment eff/end dates [RULE-2438] to all active RACE-INFORMATION (ELG00016) segments across all reporting and coverage periods
  • Ratio of errors for overlapping segment eff/end dates [RULE-2413] to all active ETHNICITY-INFORMATION (ELG00015) segments across all reporting and coverage periods

CMS Technical Instruction

Use of “Other”, “Unknown” and “Unspecified” T-MSIS Race and Ethnicity Codes

For the RACE (ELG213) and ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) data elements, there are several valid values that refer to 
“Other”, “Unknown”, or “Unspecified” race and ethnicity categories. Please refer to Table 1 below, which describes the scenarios where these race and ethnicity categories should be reported in T-MSIS.

Table 1: Use of “Other”, “Unknown”, and “Unspecified” Race and Ethnicity Values in T-MSIS
Race Valid Value Ethnicity Valid Value T-MSIS Uses
010 – Other Asian;
015 – Other Pacific Islander
018 - Other
4 - Another Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin State system captures more granular data than T-MSIS race or ethnicity codes
011 – Asian Unknown;
016 – Native Hawaiian or Other 
Pacific Islander Unknown
5 – Hispanic or Latino/a Unknown State system captures less granular data than T-MSIS codes, consistent with OMB standards
017 – Unspecified 6 – Ethnicity Unspecified No response provided by beneficiary or beneficiary did not answer/respond

Mapping Race and Ethnicity Codes to T-MSIS valid value codes

There are several T-MSIS Race (ELG213) values that share a one-to-one mapping with the OMB standard values used on many states’ Medicaid applications and in their eligibility and enrollment systems, but there are other values that have a many-to-one mapping. This section contains instructions for situations where a state’s race and ethnicity values are less granular than the T-MSIS values and for situations where a state’s race and ethnicity values are more granular than the T-MSIS values.

Tables 2 and 3 shows an example scenario where the state uses race or ethnicity valid values equivalent to the OMB standard values and are less granular than the T-MSIS race and ethnicity valid values. Refer to the instructions following Table 3 for instruction on how to report race and ethnicity information in these situations.

Table 2: Scenario: State’s Race Valid Values are Less Granular than T-MSIS
T-MSIS Race Code (ELG213) T-MSIS Race Code Description (ELG213) State’s Less Granular Race Value 
(OMB Standard Equivalent Value)
001 White White
002 Black or African American Black or African American
003 American Indian or Alaska Native American Indian or Alaska Native
011 Asian Unknown Asian
016 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Unknown Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
017 Unspecified Unknown
018 Other Other Race
Table 3: Scenario: State’s Ethnicity Valid Values are Less Granular than T-MSIS
T-MSIS Ethnicity Code (ELG204) T-MSIS Ethnicity Code Description (ELG204) State’s Less Granular Ethnicity Value 
(OMB Standard Equivalent Value)
0 Not of Hispanic or, Latino/a, or Spanish origin Not Hispanic or Latino/a
5 Hispanic or Latino Unknown Hispanic or Latino/a
6 Ethnicity Unspecified Beneficiary did not answer or was not provided opportunity to provide this information
  • States should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “011” (Asian Unknown) when detailed Asian race codes (“004” through “009”) (E.g., Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, etc.) are not available. States should not use “010” (Other Asian) or “017” (Unspecified) in this instance.
  • States should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “016” (Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Unknown) when detailed Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race codes (“012” through “014”) (e.g., Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, etc.) are not available. States should not use “015” (Other Pacific Islander) or “017” (Unspecified) in this instance.
  • State should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “018” (Other) when they have a corresponding generic category to capture all other races. States should not use “017” (Unspecified) in this instance.
  • RACE-OTHER (ELG214) is null. RACE-OTHER (ELG214) is only populated when RACE (ELG213) is “010” (Other Asian) or “015” (Other Pacific Islander). It would not be expected for RACE (ELG213) to be populated with “010” (Other Asian) or “015” (Other Pacific Islander) when the state’s race values are less granular than T-MSIS.
  • States should use the T-MSIS ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) valid value of “5” (Hispanic or Latino/a Unknown) when detailed Hispanic or Latino/a ethnicity codes (“1” through “3”) (e.g., Puerto Rican, Cuban, etc.) are not available. State should not use “6” (Ethnicity Unspecified) in this instance.
  • State should use the T-MSIS ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) valid value of “6” (Ethnicity Unspecified) when the ethnicity is unknown because the beneficiary did not provide their ethnicity or there was not opportunity offered to the beneficiary to provide it.
  • ETHNICITY-OTHER (ELG271) is null. ETHNICITY-OTHER (ELG271) is only populated when ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) is “4” (Another Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin). It would not be expected for ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) to be populated with “4” (Another Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin) when the state’s ethnicity values are less granular than T-MSIS.
Tables 4 and 5 show a scenario where the state’s race or ethnicity valid values are more granular than the T-MSIS race and ethnicity valid values. The more granular values provided in tables 4 and 5 are meant to be examples, not an exhaustive list of the potential options that could be reported. Refer to the instructions following Table 4 for instruction on how to report race and ethnicity information in these situations.
Table 4: Scenario: State’s Race Valid Values are More Granular than T-MSIS
T-MSIS Race Code (ELG213) T-MSIS Race Code Description (ELG213) State’s More Granular Race Value
001 White White
002 Black or African American Black or African American
003 American Indian or Alaska Native American Indian or Alaska Native
004 Asian Indian Asian Indian
005 Chinese Chinese
006 Filipino Filipino
007 Japanese Japanese
008 Korean Korean
009 Vietnamese Vietnamese
010 Other Asian Cambodian
Laotian
Thai
Indonesian
011 Asian Unknown Asian
Unknown Asian
012 Native Hawaiian Native Hawaiian
013 Guamanian or Chamorro Guamanian or Chamorro
014 Samoan Samoan
015 Other Pacific Islander Fijian
Tongan
Marshallese
016 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander Unknown Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
Unknown Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
017 Unspecified Unknown
018 Other Aboriginal Australian
Sami
Berber
Table 5: Scenario: State’s Ethnicity Valid Values are More Granular than T-MSIS
T-MSIS Ethnicity Code (ELG204) T-MSIS Ethnicity Code Description (ELG204) State’s More Granular Ethnicity Value
0 Not of Hispanic or, Latino/a, or Spanish origin Not Hispanic or Latino/a
1 Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a
2 Puerto Rican Puerto Rican
3 Cuban Cuban
4 Another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin Salvadoran
Dominican
Guatemalan
Colombian
Honduran
Ecuadorian
Peruvian
5 Hispanic or Latino Unknown Unknown
6 Ethnicity Unspecified Beneficiary did not answer
  • States should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “010” (Other Asian) when the state captures more detailed Asian race values than is available to report in T-MSIS (e.g., Cambodian, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Thai). States should also use the data element RACE-OTHER (ELG214) to report the more specific Asian race in this free-text field.
  • States should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “015” (Other Pacific Islander) when the state captures more detailed Pacific Islander race values than is available to report in T-MSIS (e.g., Fijian, Tongan, Marshallese). States should also use the data element RACE-OTHER (ELG214) to report the more specific Pacific Islander race in this free-text field.
  • State should use the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) valid value of “018” (Other) when the state captures more detailed race values than is available to report in T-MSIS that are not Other Asian or Other Pacific Islander (e.g., Aboriginal Australian, Sami, Berber). States should also use the data element RACE-OTHER (ELG214) to report the more specific other race in this free-text field.
  • States should use the T-MSIS ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) valid value of “4” (Another Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin) when the state captures more detailed Hispanic or Latino/a ethnicity codes than is available to report in T-MSIS. States should also use the data element ETHNICITY-OTHER (ELG271) to report the more specific ethnicity value in this free-text field.

Reporting multiple racial or ethnic categories in T-MSIS

States can report beneficiaries with multiple simultaneously active values for RACE (ELG213), as the data element is a primary key for the RACE-INFORMATION-ELG00016 segment. The T-MSIS technical requirements expect that the RACE (ELG213) and RACE-OTHER (ELG214) values are different on each simultaneously active segment for a given beneficiary.

States can also report beneficiaries with multiple simultaneously active values for ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204), as the data element is a primary key for the ETHNICITY-INFORMATION-ELG00015 segment. The T-MSIS technical requirements expect that the ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) values are different on each simultaneously active segment for a given beneficiary.

States should use the instructions above to determine the appropriate T-MSIS race and ethnicity valid values to report, depending on whether their state race valid values are more or less granular than the T-MSIS values, and if multiple values apply to a given beneficiary, the state can report all of the applicable values. Three examples of situations where individuals self-identify multiple racial categories or self-identify multiple ethnic categories and how to report them in T-MSIS follows:

  • Example 1: The state captures an individual’s self-identified racial categories as: Black or African American, Korean, and Thai. The state values are more granular than the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) values. In T-MSIS, we would expect the following RACE-INFORMATION-ELG00016 segments for this individual.

Table 6: Example 1: Individual Reporting Multiple Racial Categories in T-MSIS – State’s Race values are more granular than T-MSIS
MSIS-IDENTIFICATION-NUM (ELG212) RACE (ELG213) RACE-OTHER (ELG214) RACE-DECLARATION-EFF-DATE (ELG216) RACE-DECLARATION-END-DATE (ELG217)
3456789 002 - Black or African American Null 20210427 99991231
3456789 008 – Korean Null 20210427 99991231
3456789 010 – Other Asian Thai 20210427 99991231
  • Example 2: The state captures an individual’s self-identified racial categories as: White and Asian. The state values are less granular than the T-MSIS RACE (ELG213) values. In T-MSIS, we would expect the following RACE-INFORMATION-ELG00016 segments for this individual. 
Table 7: Example 2: Individual Reporting Multiple Racial Categories in T-MSIS – State’s Race values are less granular than T-MSIS
MSIS-IDENTIFICATION-NUM (ELG212) RACE (ELG213) RACE-OTHER (ELG214) RACE-DECLARATION-EFF-DATE (ELG216) RACE-DECLARATION-END-DATE (ELG217)
24681357 001 - White Null 20210203 99991231
24681357 011 – Asian Unknown Null 20210203 99991231
  • Example 3: The state captures an individual’s self-identified ethnicity as: Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a; Puerto Rican; and Honduran. The state values are more granular than the T-MSIS ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) values. In T-MSIS, we would expect the following ETHNICITY-INFORMATION-ELG00015 segments for this individual.
Table 8: Example 3: Individual Reporting Multiple Ethnic Categories in T-MSIS – State’s Ethnicity values are more granular than T-MSIS
MSIS-IDENTIFICATION-NUM (ELG203) ETHNICITY-CODE (ELG204) ETHNICITY-OTHER (ELG271) ETHNICITY-DECLARATION-EFF-DATE (ELG205) ETHNICITY-DECLARATION-END-DATE (ELG206)
97867564 1 – Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano/a Null 20211107 99991231
97867564 2 – Puerto Rican Null 20211107 99991231
97867564 4 – Another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin Honduran 20211107 99991231

[1] Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111–148, 124 Stat. 119 (2010)

[2] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Implementation Guidance on Data Collection Standards for Race, Ethnicity, Sex, Primary Language, and Disability Status

[3] Data Collection Standards for Race, Ethnicity, Sex, Primary Language, and Disability Status.

[4] Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. 62 Fed. Reg. 58782 (October 30, 1997).

[5] Revisions to the Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity. 62 Fed. Reg. 58782 (October 30, 1997).

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