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The Health Management Associates (HMA) conference brought together hundreds of industry executives from health plans, governments and community-based organizations serving Medicaid, Medicare and vulnerable populations. Set in Chicago, Illinois, the conference shed a light on the challenges and opportunities for health care entities in the publicly sponsored health care arena.

In case you were not able to attend, here is a recap of the key topics discussed:

Breakthroughs in Social Determinants of Health

Health care entities, including state Medicaid agencies and health plans, have been implementing programs to address social determinants of health (SDOH), such as food insecurity and housing. Leaders of such programs outlined the breakthroughs and strategic developments that have led to measurable improvement in member health.  Kevin Moore, the Vice President of Policy at UnitedHealth Group, said his health plan’s program prioritized the housing needs of members first and then addressed behavioral needs: “As we identify the individuals, we need to satisfy their housing needs first.  There is power in satisfying their housing, and then after, help with their behavioral needs.” He also described the process as a balancing act: “How do we make sure that we don’t open Pandora’s box, but we’re helping the patient? Ultimately, it’s an ongoing process to help the patient.”

Dr. Brad Lucas, Senior Medical Director at Buckeye Health Plan, added that in order to make the most effective SDOH-based program, “You must be from the community and in the community to truly make an impact.” Along the way, he underscored it is important to not be so driven by the finances: “I think we need to not let ourselves get stopped by the ROI.  We get so conditioned to that.  We need to get to a point where we stop asking these questions, but focus more on the work we’re doing.” 

Community Engagement Requirements

As Indiana, Arkansas and New Hampshire have already implemented Medicaid work requirements, several other states have applied for the approval of implementing work requirements. State officials from Indiana and Arkansas described the lessons they have learned from early community engagement initiatives and whether they are helping members achieve self-sufficiency. Ray Hanley, who spent 28 years with the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said, “The biggest lesson we learned was that proper training at our call centers was needed.  We needed proper quality assurance. This is because half of the 18,000 people we had, couldn’t be found.  Their mail came back, etc., so we started publishing the phone number, which helped some.”

Natalie Angel of Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning said the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) program focused on education. “Over 40% of the people in our program didn’t have a high school diploma.  We’ve been working with the GED program in Indiana.” The state focused on education in order to target the people with the “best chances of success” in the program. Jean Caster, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Anthem described some of HIP’s innovations: “You get an invoice monthly with how much you owe, you get a statement that tells you how much money is in your account/how you spent your money, members have an opportunity to make cash payment, and there are rollover credits.” Caster ended by underscoring the most important part to any community engagement program: “Educate, educate, educate—over-educate! That is the key!”

The conference ended with a bustling cocktail event sponsored by Softheon. Product owners, Neha and Randeep, discussed Softheon’s asset verification solution, Verify, with the crowd.

If you would like to learn more about the solution, register for our Verify webinar on 9/12 from 3 P.M. to 4 P.M. Registration is available here:  

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