A critical strategy for the success of any Medicaid managed care program, especially one serving people with disabilities, is building consumer and advocate support from the outset. As more states are planning managed care models to improve the quality of care for people with disabilities, states should welcome consumer and advocate feedback — both positive and negative. This brief, developed through interviews with state and health plan officials, consumers, and advocates, outlines successful state strategies for bringing key stakeholders into the planning, implementation, and oversight of managed care programs for people with disabilities.

States should consider a variety of engagement strategies, beginning with identifying leaders from the consumer and advocacy communities, holding public meetings and focus groups, and forming advisory and oversight committees. Web sites and listservs are also useful tools for sharing information and avoiding the spread of misinformation about new programs. By seeking ongoing meaningful input from consumers and advocates, states can build long-term partnerships resulting in stronger managed care programs that are more effective and more responsive to consumer needs.