Creating a Culture of Access

More than six years ago UnitedHealthcare Community & State established a National Advisory Board (NAB) comprised of aging and disability experts, consumers and caregivers. Working with UnitedHealthcare, the NAB identifies trends and issues that could substantially improve the quality of life for individuals served by Medicaid.

In past years the NAB has focused on many key issues, including: elder abuse, neglect and exploitation; quality in managed long-term services; support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and caregiving.

When the Board recently reflected on this work, there was clear agreement that progress was still needed to develop a culture in which access to care is foundational to the health care system.

The Board recently started the first phase of this “culture of access” initiative. One of the critical first steps was formalizing the definition of “culture of access.” NAB developed the following:

  • being person-centered
  • supporting a view of sustainable long-term health and well-being that is rooted in communities
  • having capacity
  • being equipped to serve individuals in a culturally-competent manner

Next steps included researching and cataloging Medicaid waivers from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Waivers allow states to cover benefits that baseline Medicaid plans do not cover. They also help to determine what services Medicaid consumers can access and which specific consumers can access those services. Each of the 50 states and U.S. territories operate at least one waiver in their Medicaid program. A brief detailing of that research can be found here.

Over the next several months, the NAB will continue this work by developing recommendations on the core set of benefits that all individuals of all ages should have access to. This recommendation will reflect the needs of all populations, including those with complex medical and behavioral health needs. Additionally, the NAB will identify policy opportunities to improve the regulatory environment to support a culture of access. Finally, the NAB will create principles of person-centered care and cultural competency critical to a health care system devoted to access to care.

Insight and research from the NAB’s previous initiatives have shaped how UnitedHealthcare, as well as other managed care organizations, better support our members and collaborate with advocates. It has also impacted how we encourage states to design their health and human service programs. The current work of the NAB will undoubtedly have the same the impact. 

Read more from Nicole Truhe

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