Author: Bianca Freda, Deborah Kozick, and Anna Spencer, Center for Health Care Strategies

January 2018 | Brief



Given the impact that social factors have on health status and expenditures, and the shift toward value-based payment models that reward providers based on outcomes, health care organizations (HCO) and community-based organizations (CBO) across the country are increasingly working together to address patients’ social needs.

In Massachusetts, the state Medicaid agency, MassHealth, through its Medicaid 1115 demonstration waiver, is investing in accountable care organizations and community partners to integrate physical health, behavioral health, and long-term services and supports. The state is also funding certain approved “flexible services” that address health-related social needs that are not otherwise covered as MassHealth benefits.

This brief, developed to inform Massachusetts’ work in this area, draws on insights gleaned from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s national Partnership for Healthy Outcomes project and a June 2017 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation conference, which convened several HCO-CBO partnerships to share promising partnership models. It outlines characteristics of successful HCO-CBO partnerships and provides recommendations to guide the development of successful collaborations between health care and social service organizations. Although this brief was developed for Massachusetts, it offers helpful insights regarding the strategic, operational, and financial approaches that drive the success of HCO and CBO partnerships that can inform efforts in other states.