Community health workers (CHW) are frontline health representatives who share the same lived experience or culture as those they serve.1 By strengthening relationships with underrepresented communities, CHW programs aim to support organizations in providing person-centered care that takes an individual’s lifestyle, community and beliefs into consideration.2 These programs support both the clinical and non-clinical needs of patients while simultaneously reducing provider burden and improving health care quality.
While there was a time when CHW programs as part of health plans saw little success due to a lack of funding and accreditation, integration between managed care organizations and CHWs is now an accepted and recommended practice.3 In 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published a document outlining the benefits of CHW programs as well as the action steps required for proper implementation.² More recently, the National Association of Community Health Workers developed a white paper with UnitedHealthcare Community and State.
This whitepaper details:
- An overview of CHW history
- The value of CHW programs to the communities they serve
- The current state of CHW-Medicaid integration
- Recommendations for managed care organizations