Tomorrow’s Health Care System Needs Community Health Workers: A Policy Agenda

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Cover of CHW policy brief
Katharine London, MS
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Margaret Carey, MPH
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Kate Russell, MA
University of Massachusetts Medical School

Community health workers (CHW) can improve health outcomes, reduce health disparities and contain costs, according to a brief authored by health policy experts at UMass Medical School and released by the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health).

Tomorrow’s Health Care System Needs Community Health Workers:  A Policy Agenda for Connecticut lays out steps Connecticut can take to cultivate and integrate a robust community health worker workforce in the state’s health care system. The policy brief was written by Katharine London, MS; Margaret Carey, MPH; and Kate Russell, MA; of the Center for Health Law and Economics, a unit within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division. CT Health commissioned the analysis.

The policy brief cites research showing that CHWs can improve health outcomes and contain costs. It argues that CHWs can help clinical practices meet new quality standards – such as providing recommended preventive screenings and reducing the need for expensive emergency department visits  – and earn higher payments from health plans. Furthermore, new federal rules make it easier for state Medicaid programs to pay for CHW services.

The authors also outline the key steps that Connecticut can take to cultivate a robust CHW workforce.