HealthAffairs Blog: How Medicaid Managed Care Plans Can Respond to Social Needs

July 7th, 2020 | News


One unforeseen outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is the likely improvement in the financial standing of many Medicaid managed care plans (MCPs). With enrollment rising and the decrease in utilization due to shelter-in place-orders, Medicaid MCPs have the opportunity to become a part of an effective coordinated response to social needs that have emerged due to the pandemic, and the structural inequities that prefaced it. State and federal administrators have an opportunity to encourage that engagement and investment.

In a new blog featured in Health Affairs, JSI’s Jeremy Cantor, Rachel Tobey, Nicole Giron, and Tracey Kirui discuss the ways Medicaid MCPs could make effective use of their unexpected financial windfall to address social needs and support the communities they serve. Potential strategies include hiring and training community health workers and funding community-based organizations. The authors also highlight approaches government agencies can take to signal their clear support for these efforts.

As the blog concludes, “There are important questions about the right way to create more flexibility in the use of health resources to address social factors sustainably. This crisis creates an imperative for the public sector to test answers to those questions immediately while becoming an integrated part of local recovery. The alternative is to be cautious, wait for social and economic despair to manifest as health conditions, and provide clinical treatment then.”

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