Newswise — Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment, and Systems Transformation, a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, was recently launched to reduce and eliminate disparities in health care through innovative Medicaid payment and contracting models.

The program brings together three of the nation’s most prominent organizations devoted to ensuring good health for all Americans: the University of Chicago Medicine, the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI), and the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS). Together they will collaborate with state Medicaid agencies, Medicaid managed care health plans, and healthcare delivery organizations to design value-based payment and contracting models that support and incentivize healthcare delivery transformation to reduce and eliminate disparities in health and healthcare.

“Achieving health equity requires commitment from the C-suite. It means restructuring payment to support and incentivize the reduction of disparities”, said Marshall Chin, MD, MPH, the Richard Parrillo Family Professor of Healthcare Ethics at the University of Chicago and co-director of the program.

Advancing Health Equity will include a learning collaborative for up to nine teams focused on reducing and eliminating health and healthcare disparities in their patient populations. Each team will consist of a Medicaid managed care organization (MMCO), the State Medicaid program in at least one market in which the MMCO operates, and one or more provider organizations or systems contracted by the MMCO within that market.

“The program fills a critical gap in our nation’s efforts to reduce and eliminate disparities in health and healthcare,” said Andrea Ducas, MPH, senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It will bring state Medicaid agencies, health plans, and providers together to learn best practices to address health disparities tailored to the needs of the people they serve.”

Cross-organization collaboration to improve health equity for medicaid enrollees and families

IMI and CHCS each bring unique experience and skills to Advancing Health Equity. “The Institute for Medicaid Innovation’s experience leading multi-stakeholder learning collaboratives brings important lessons regarding the integration of payment and health care delivery reforms to this new program”, said Jennifer Moore, PhD, RN, Executive Director and CEO.

Tricia McGinnis, MPP, MPH, and senior vice president at CHCS, said that “Including state Medicaid agencies in partnership with Medicaid health plans in this type of proactive collaboration is an important next step that has the potential to significantly expand the impact of these lessons. CHCS looks forward to supporting these critical partnerships.”

Besides the learning collaborative, Advancing Health Equity will provide individualized equity-focused technical assistance to state Medicaid agencies and coordinate a national advisory and policy development committee. The committee of national experts in health disparities, consumer and patient perspectives, state Medicaid programs, Medicaid managed care organizations, and providers will identify implementation lessons learned and develop policy recommendations that will be disseminated broadly to other state Medicaid programs, health plans, providers, and policy-makers.