Survey: Medicaid Health Plans Share Successes During COVID-19 Response, Identify Challenges in Data Collection and Sharing

Survey: Medicaid Health Plans Share Successes During COVID-19 Response, Identify Challenges in Data Collection and Sharing

Findings can support opportunities for change as Medicaid health plans look for innovation post-COVID

Washington, DC –The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented change and disruption to the health care sector. This turbulence led to policies that supported increased flexibilities in the Medicaid program and fueled interest in revisiting other opportunities for transformation. The Institute for Medicaid Innovation’s (IMI) 2022 Medicaid managed care organization (MCO) survey findings offer insights and can help inform efforts led by Medicaid health plans and state agencies to meet enrollees’ needs post-COVID.

IMI’s annual Medicaid MCO survey findings highlight the long-standing systemic issues with data collection and communication that affect enrollee care. While data collection and sharing challenges have been longstanding in the U.S., the issues became more pronounced during the pandemic when data circulation became a key part of the infection control strategy. Survey results unscored the role of uncertainty around data sharing policies and differences in state-level regulation in hampering health plans’ efforts to coordinate care and connect enrollees to services and supports.

  • 71% of health plan respondents cited access to information from previous providers as a key barrier to care coordination
  • 67% of health plans said their information technology systems were a barrier to setting up effective telehealth delivery services. Data collection issues hamper Medicaid’s ability to effectively measure, monitor, and assess population health and improve equity.

“The need for accurate and accessible data is clear as we consider its impact on the quality of care for Medicaid enrollees,” said Jennifer E. Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN, founding executive director of IMI. “The survey results show widespread challenges with data interoperability across many of the survey categories. This is an area replete with opportunity as we look towards future innovations in Medicaid.”

Policy and regulatory changes made during the public health emergency would improve care for enrollees if made permanent. Known barriers to care were reduced when flexibilities were introduced during the public health emergency, such as continuous enrollment and telehealth access.

  • 90% of health plans reported enacting service and benefit flexibilities and strengthening their telehealth capabilities,
  • 71% of health plans believe that these flexibilities increased patient access

“As we assess the impact of the temporary policy changes, it is clear that increased flexibilities specific to telehealth was critical for access to behavioral health services,” said Jennifer E. Moore, PhD, RN, FAAN. “However, the survey results tell the story of how Medicaid health plans are witnessing increased strain on the current behavioral health systems including fragmentation and staffing shortages. The data begs us to ask the questions: what lessons can we carry forward from the pandemic, and in what ways can we make them sustainable?”

Additionally, strengthened partnerships between Medicaid health plans and community-based organizations (CBOs) helped to address many of the front-line social drivers of health. Future investments in CBOs will support efforts to share data and support partnerships with managed care plans to identify and implement the most effective, evidence-based strategies.

Health plans and other Medicaid stakeholders can use the 2022 Medicaid MCO survey results to share and generate ideas, gauge performance, and improve services to enrollees. Access each survey fact sheet category below:

About the Institute for Medicaid Innovation

The Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) is a national 501(c)3 nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization that provides independent information and analysis to inform Medicaid policy and improve the health of the nation.