High proportions of Medicaid patients are racial/ethnic minorities and have behavioral health conditions predisposing them to health disparities. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) may offer preferential benefits to patients with medical and social complexity. Little is known about if and how ACOs may reduce health disparities, improve outcomes, and lower costs for Medicaid populations.
The Hennepin Health (HH) ACO serves a Medicaid expansion population in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a care model that addresses patients’ behavioral and social service needs. ACO leaders believe this will result in higher-quality care with greater patient satisfaction at lower costs. This unique care model has made HH a national leader among Medicaid ACOs.
HH engages its members in the delivery of its care model through a member advisory council. The council offers insight to operational leaders and has, for example, guided the ACO to implement a more patient-centered bus-pass policy. This council currently offers limited feedback to a multistakeholder team of researchers, clinicians, and health policy leaders formally evaluating the program supported by the Commonwealth Fund.
A Pipeline to Proposal award will expand our multistakeholder team to include patients. It will support the integration of patients in the development of future proposals for comparative effectiveness research on Medicaid populations. Specific focus will be on conditions of critical importance, including mental illness, chronic pain, and substance use disorders. Integrating patients into our research team will eventually allow us to assess key outcomes such as health-related quality of life for Medicaid patients within and outside ACOs.