Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong Explains How Medicaid Aims to Provide a Broad Spectrum of Personalized Care

Having the Medicaid program value social determinants of health and the idea that health is not just about healthcare is important, said Mavis Asiedu-Frimpong, director for national initiatives at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

HHS indicated that it may allow CMS to pay for solutions that address the whole person, such as housing and healthy foods. What does that mean for the work of the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs?
Well it’s tremendous news I think for the field because if we are going to design systems of care that work better they have to be integrated and they have to be coordinated and that is a lot of times a funding issue. And a lot of individuals with lived experience who are dealing with overlapping medical, behavioral, and social needs are served by the Medicaid program.

And so, to the extent that we can wrap services around this population through the Medicaid program and to the extent that Medicaid will pay for issues that are very closely tied to the social determinants of health, the more coordinated systems will be, the more integrated they will be and the better off individuals with lived experience will be as well and that’s the goal that we’re all working towards—making sure that populations that we serve are served in the best way possible.

And having the Medicaid program really value social determinants of health and really value the idea that health is not just about healthcare. It’s about the conditions in which we live and work. I think it’s a critical step forward for the administration and a critical step forward for the field as well.

How have you seen the field’s view of social determinants of health evolve?
Well I think more than ever people are recognizing the critical importance of social determinants. I think in providers’ offices, in emergency departments, in social services providers’ offices people are wanting systems to work better and more often than not these systems are not just about the ailment that is presenting at that time that someone walks in for services.

They are articulating needs that fall outside of the healthcare system. They’re articulating needs for housing. They’re articulating needs for healthy food. They are articulating needs for transportation that are very closely connected to the actual physical condition that they’re in at the time that they present.

And so more than ever we are seeing a shift towards social determinants really being at the forefront of the conversation around healthcare and that’s very exciting for us, and at the National Center we want to build upon that.

We want to make that even more important and more centered within the conversation around healthcare so there are organizations that are looking at this that are highlighting it as well. There are providers that are looking at this and highlighting it as well. The policy that you just mentioned with regard to Medicaid is a clear example of this so we’re seeing that momentum. It is no longer something that isn’t well understood. It is understood in the field. The question is now how to do it.
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