How are Massachusetts community-based organizations responding to the health care sector’s entry into social determinants of health?

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation

With a growing focus on population health and value-based care nationwide, the health care sector is increasingly recognizing the impact that social and environmental factors have on the health and health care utilization of low-income and other vulnerable populations. In Massachusetts, the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth, is implementing a number of reforms as part of the Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment (DSRIP) program that was approved as part of the state’s most recent Medicaid 1115 demonstration waiver extension. MassHealth has also taken steps to address the social determinants of health (SDH) through its care delivery reform efforts. Accountable care organizations (ACOs) are required to screen for social needs in specified domains and are encouraged to refer patients with positive screens to local resources. The specific role of community-based organizations (CBOs) within the MassHealth ACO program is still in development.

This report aims to address the following question: How are CBOs responding to the health care sector’s movement into SDH programming in Massachusetts? The research team conducted 46 key informant interviews with leadership and high-level program staff from a diverse set of CBOs focused on food, housing, legal services, and more, across Massachusetts between September 2017 and March 2018. Informed by the study findings, this report outlines recommendations for health care leaders and policymakers to support the integration of health care and social service delivery.

Taylor LA, Byhoff E. How are Massachusetts Community-Based Organizations Responding to the Health Care Sector’s Entry into Social Determinants of Health? Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts; 2018. Available online.

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Issue Briefs & Reports
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