Brief on advancing health equity across complex care populations

Nicole Truhe is Senior Policy Director, UnitedHealthcare Community & State, Jaycee Jones is Associate Policy Director, Complex Care and Martha Roherty is Executive Director, ADvancing States.

UnitedHealthcare’s 2022 Report on Health Equity in Medicaid detailed how the topic of health equity is permeating national and state-level conversations related to Medicaid. UnitedHealthcare remains committed to continually advancing the conversation on health equity to find ways to better address the disparities that disproportionately impact the populations we serve. In addition to publishing our own work on health equity initiatives, we continue to highlight the health equity work of peer institutions.

Recently, a new issue brief was published by the MLTSS Institute, which is a collaboration between ADvancing States members and national Medicaid health plans, including UnitedHealthcare, to drive improvements in key MLTSS policy issues. The brief, “Advancing Equity through MLTSS Programs,”  highlights the important work being done to advance health equity for complex care populations. It provides examples of how MLTSS programs can address health equity for LTSS consumers who experience barriers to care due to the intersectional impact of disability, age, race, ethnicity, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, geography, and other demographics. These demographic realities can serve as barriers to these individuals from achieving their highest possible quality of life.

While there is existing research on equity in Medicaid as a whole, few resources focus on equity within and across Medicaid-funded LTSS programs. The authors conducted research and interviews and identified the following five themes of how MLTSS programs can be leveraged to support state efforts to create more equitable programs for consumers:

  • Improving demographic data collection
  • Ensuring MLTSS programs include a diverse network of culturally competent providers and community partners
  • Using existing tools, like RFPs, to align MLTSS plan efforts with equity-related goals
  • Authentically engaging members through multiple modalities to receive stakeholder feedback
  • Improving person-centered planning processes to address barriers at the individual consumer level

The 2022 Report on Health Equity in Medicaid and “Advancing Equity through MLTSS Programs” both highlight the lack of consistent and reliable data for historically underserved populations. Given this reality, it is difficult to articulate the extent of health disparities across all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, genders and disabilities across complex care populations. The MLTSS Institute’s issue brief provides visibility into the issue and furthers the conversation on how managed care organizations can help states advance health equity for LTSS consumers.

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