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Issue Brief
July 2016

How States Can Fund Community Health Workers through Medicaid to Improve People’s Health, Decrease Costs, and Reduce Disparities

Community health workers (CHWs) provide many different services, from helping people buy health insurance and navigating the health care system to leading community-level health education classes. CHWs are especially valuable in vulnerable, underserved communities that struggle with multiple barriers to good health and health care, such as those with limited English proficiency, unmet social needs, and scarcity of reliable transportation.

Unfortunately, a lack of sustainable funding often prevents states from expanding CHW programs and integrating them into the health care system. Reimbursing CHW services through Medicaid is one way to address these challenges. This brief shows advocates how to work with CHWs and their state to establish more sustainable funding in ways that are best suited to that state.

In this brief (PDF), we:

  • Explain how community health workers improve people’s health, reduce health care costs, and address barriers to care
  • Discuss key questions regarding sustainable funding through Medicaid for states that want to start or expand such programs
  • Present case studies of three states (Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico), detailing how they fund, train, certify, and integrate CHW programs