As trusted members of their communities, community health workers (CHWs) have a proven track record of increasing access to preventive services, improving health outcomes, and even reducing costs. And by addressing the social determinants of health, CHWs can play a key role in reducing health disparities.
Blueprint for Health Care Advocacy: How Community Health Workers Are Driving Health Equity and Value in New Mexico
Across the health care system, there is tremendous interest and momentum in reforming the way health care is delivered and paid for in order to improve health care quality and outcomes and at the same time, reduce costs. These reform efforts create an enormous opportunity to improve resources, infrastructure, and incentives for interventions to meaningfully reduce racial and ethnic health disparities. Yet, if these reforms are not designed and implemented carefully, they could actually end up making these disparities worse.
As health equity advocates we share a fundamental vision of a nation where every single human being has an equitable chance to enjoy the best health possible, no matter who they are—including where they were born. For us, it is not about being on the left or right of the political spectrum. Equal access to good health is an intrinsically human value.
Connecticut just took an important step toward improving health outcomes for its most vulnerable residents. Earlier this summer, the governor signed a law that lays the foundation for the broader use and support of community health workers (CHWs).
Community health workers play a valuable role in helping people achieve better health. Because they are trusted community members, they are uniquely effective at connecting underserved communities to the health care system and helping people navigate social factors that pose barriers to good health. In doing so, CHWs help to improve health outcomes and narrow health disparities.
Through our new Community Health Worker Sustainability Collaborative, launched with the support of the Kresge Foundation, we will work with CHW organizations, health care and health equity advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders to promote using Medicaid funds to provide more sustainable support to CHW programs and better integrate them into the health care system.
We know that unleashing the power of CHWs in communities across the country will make a tremendous difference in health and health care, especially in communities of color.
For those of us engaged in the daily work of bending the arc of history toward justice, the last few weeks have pierced us to our core.
As health equity advocates, the very heart of our vocation is a shared belief that every single human being has the right to live a healthy life—a right that must be supported with resources and concrete action.
How States Can Fund Community Health Workers through Medicaid to Improve People’s Health, Decrease Costs, and Reduce Disparities
This brief discusses the value of community health workers (CHWs) in improving care while reducing disparities for vulnerable populations. It also walks advocates through how they can get sustainable funding for CHWs in their state.
After the close of each open enrollment session, enrollment assisters often debrief with each other to discuss what worked and what lessons they learned about successful enrollment. In several debrief meetings we joined recently around the country, discussion frequently touched on the increasing complexity of consumers’ needs and assisters’ growing interest in professional development.
As members of the enrollment team at Families USA, we were invited to help plan and facilitate some of these debrief meetings. Reflections about lessons learned from the last open enrollment were a crucial component of those meetings, but many also used this time to look ahead and plan for next year.
In early January, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation announced its first program focused on addressing a patient’s social needs. This 5-year, $157 million pilot program, called Accountable Health Communities, will try to bridge the gap between clinical and social services, testing whether addressing these needs can improve health, lower costs, and improve quality for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Across the country, states are experimenting with new health delivery models aimed at strengthening primary care and addressing social service needs that can affect a patient’s overall health. Both community health workers and enrollment assisters can serve an important role in this work by connecting clients with services that enable them to access care and manage their health.