Many state Medicaid agencies are pursuing new strategies to address health-related social needs (HRSN). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging state Medicaid programs to integrate HRSN strategies using a range of policy levers, with an explicit focus on health equity. CMS recently issued guidance to states on ways to finance select nutrition and housing supports using Section 1115 demonstrations and in lieu of services; developed quality measures and models that encourage social needs screening; and proposed updated managed care rules with a focus on access and quality.
This current policy window provides unique opportunities for states to advance HRSN strategies within Medicaid and promote health equity for communities that have been historically marginalized. To help states uncover early lessons, best practices, and potential pitfalls related to this work, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), with support from the Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at The East Bay Community Foundation, is launching the Medicaid Health-Related Social Needs Implementation Learning Series. In partnership with HealthBegins and the Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN), CHCS will support up to nine Medicaid agencies developing, implementing, or refining HRSN initiatives. The 12-month learning series will help participating states:
- Strengthen new or expand existing HSRN strategies and programs, with an eye toward effective, on-the-ground implementation by Medicaid managed care organizations, health care systems, and community-based organizations (CBOs);
- Translate emerging best practices and evidence; and;
- Promote health equity and center community member voice.
Selected states will participate in peer-to-peer information sharing and learning opportunities to advance their HRSN policy and implementation goals. The curriculum will help states shape HRSN policy approaches with a focus on: (1) supporting health care organization and CBO partnerships; (2) developing accountability mechanisms, including process and outcome measures for HRSN work; and (3) creating Medicaid benefits based on existing or emerging evidence.