In many states, managed care organizations (MCOs) are responsible for delivering most Medicaid services. As such, MCOs are uniquely positioned to help Medicaid beneficiaries access not only much-needed physical and mental health services, but also non-medical supports that can influence health status.

In Texas, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) is partnering with a group of health sector stakeholders in harnessing the capacity of MCOs to address the non-medical, root causes of poor health for patients across the state. This project is focusing on improving access to healthy food, housing conditions, transportation, and other social factors that often have a direct impact on a person’s health. The Texas Managed Care Organization Social Determinants of Health Learning Collaborative is a partnership of the Texas Association of Health Plans, Texas Association of Community Health Plans, and CHCS, with support provided by the Episcopal Health Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The learning collaborative is helping Texas Medicaid MCOs understand effective strategies for addressing the social needs of Medicaid beneficiaries, and support the development and implementation of interventions to address social needs. The learning collaborative, which includes regular in-person and virtual meetings, enabling Texas’ Medicaid MCOs to learn from one another and from leading-edge health plan and provider innovators across the nation. Key topics under exploration include:

  • Evidence on effective interventions to address social service needs, including transportation, food insecurity, and housing;
  • Promising approaches for engaging and formally contracting with new community partner organizations;
  • Understanding relevant Texas Medicaid policies and requirements for funding social service interventions; and
  • Strategies for staffing interventions and partnering with health care providers, community-based partners, and Medicaid beneficiaries.

Throughout the multi-year initiative, CHCS will distill lessons from the Texas-based MCOs to help inform other health plans serving Medicaid populations across the nation.