COVID-19 and MCO-Community Partnerships to Address Enrollee Social Needs

Rachel Hogg-Graham, Allison M. Scott, Hayley Stahl, Elizabeth Riley, Emily R. Clear, Teresa M. Waters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Many Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) now screen enrollees and connect them to community-based organizations (CBOs) to address unmet social needs. COVID-19 has significantly disrupted health care delivery and overall economic activity in the United States. We examined how partnerships between Medicaid MCOs and CBOs to address social determinants of health have been affected by the pandemic. STUDY DESIGN: Guided by questions and recruitment strategies developed with our stakeholder advisory board, we conducted 26 interviews with representatives from all 6 of Kentucky’s Medicaid MCOs. METHODS: In-depth, structured interviews for data collection and iterative content analyses to identify themes. RESULTS: Several themes emerged, including substantial increases in enrollees’ unmet needs and the demand to find new ways to be responsive, changing funding patterns, disruptions to and evolving modes of communication, and shifting partner relationships. In virtually all areas of impact, COVID-19 has been associated with both negative and positive change. CONCLUSIONS: Unmet social needs associated with the pandemic placed tremendous strain on CBOs, limiting their capacity to sustain some programs and partnerships. Isolation associated with COVID-19 also had wide-ranging effects on service delivery, communication with enrollees and partners, and the ability to maintain relationships. Nonetheless, the pandemic also had some silver linings, including additional resources and flexibility for addressing unmet needs. Federal and state agencies, along with MCO leaders, should carefully evaluate what innovations have been particularly effective during the pandemic and craft new flexibilities into their policies, procedures, and regulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-141
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Managed Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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