State Medicaid agencies are increasingly pursuing opportunities to address health-related social needs (HRSN) to improve health outcomes, reduce health care spending, and advance health equity. These efforts are accelerating in the current environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the profound health inequities experienced by individuals with low incomes and people of color. As states consider efforts to address HRSN, state Medicaid agencies will need to determine how to align activities with health reforms, develop effective cross-sector partnerships, and coordinate with other state agencies overseeing food, housing, and transportation policy.

This tool, produced by the Center for Health Care Strategies with support from the Episcopal Health Foundation, can guide state Medicaid agencies in developing a cohesive strategy to address HRSN supported by Medicaid managed care and value-based payment initiatives. A robust HRSN strategy can help states achieve high-priority Medicaid goals and can support broader state goals to improve community-level social determinants of health. A companion environmental scan highlights available evidence on specific approaches, tools, and resources related to addressing HRSN.