Opportunities for and Perceptions of Integrating Community Health Workers Via the Affordable Care Act: Medicaid Health Homes

Elizabeth Lockhart, Deanne Turner, DInorah Martinez-Tyson, Julie A. Baldwin, Stephanie L. Marhefka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: The Affordable Care Act created opportunities for innovative, cost-saving measures to improve health care access. Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who have a close understanding of the communities they serve. States that expanded Medicaid coverage could also create Medicaid Health Homes (MHHs) - virtual health care networks - to coordinate care for people with chronic conditions. New York was the second state to implement MHHs and gave the option to include CHWs as part of the health care team. Objective: To understand the perceptions of MHH administrators regarding CHW engagement in MHHs, as well as the facilitators and barriers to adoption in MHHs that are unknown. Design, Setting, and Participants: Semistructured qualitative interviews (n = 18) were conducted with MHH administrators throughout New York State guided by the Diffusion of Innovations (DOI) framework. Qualitative thematic analysis was used to explore the domains and themes. Results: Most MHH administrators believed that CHWs fit within MHHs. The DOI constructs of compatibility and complexity and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research construct of external policies helped explain CHW integration. CHWs were compatible with MHHs by enrolling patients, helping coordinate patient care, and providing social support. The complexities of CHW integration into MHHs included barriers to CHW integration, no direct reimbursement for their services, lack of clarity for CHW roles and responsibilities, and no explicit external policy for their use in MHHs. Conclusions: CHWs can, and have, been integrated into the relatively novel Health Home system. While some barriers have prevented their integration into all MHHs, lessons learned could provide guidance for CHW integration into other health care systems in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Medicaid
  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • community health workers
  • implementation science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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