Social Needs During Pandemic Highlight Equity Opportunities

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Medicaid managed care organizations were working with limited revenue streams and navigating across various waivers to address social determinants of health (SDOH). But the pandemic created a new hurdle for low-income enrollees struggling to access basic needs like food and transportation, underscoring the fragmented system in which communities and states currently function, according to panelists at the 12th Annual Medicaid Innovations Forum, hosted virtually from Feb. 1 to 4 by Strategic Solutions Network.

While the previous administration issued a “roadmap” for state health officials highlighting the various demonstration opportunities they have to address different SDOH categories, “there’s a lot more this new administration could do to accelerate progress on [SDOH] and to advance health equity,” starting with infrastructure, suggested Eric Beane, vice president of regulatory and government affairs with Unite Us, speaking during a Feb. 2 panel. “Right now, federal government programs are incredibly siloed. You have individual programs that look at one need of an individual — they don’t look at a whole person’s need, much less the needs of that family or that community — and it’s challenging to communicate…and collaborate across systems.”

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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