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Health Net Initiatives Recognized by Institute for Medicaid Innovation for Addressing Social Determinants of Health to Improve Health Equity

Date: 06/30/22

Initiatives expanded telehealth to California's most vulnerable residents; extended physical and mental health care to those without shelter; promoted healthy child development; and improved food access and education.

Sacramento, Calif. (June 30, 2022) – Health Net, one of California's longest serving and most experienced Medi-Cal partners, has been recognized by the Institute for Medicaid Innovation (IMI) for their various initiatives throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to address social determinants of health and to reduce inequities.

"The pandemic meant we needed to rapidly pivot how we do our work to continue meeting the needs of our members," said Dr. Pooja Mittal, Chief Health Equity Officer at Health Net. "We are proud of the work our teams have done to help members stay connected to care and services, whether through telehealth or community outreach. We will continue these efforts for years to come."

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, many providers halted outpatient care for days, weeks or longer to decrease the risk of transmitting the virus to patients or health care workers. But Californians continued to need food, information and support. Health Net stepped in and listened, adapting existing initiatives and developing new ones to meet the health and social needs of the communities they serve.

IMI hosted a webinar to examine and highlight initiatives that addressed social determinants of health and health inequities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among them, Health Net had four programs that were showcased to attendees, including their COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support, MLKCH Street Medicine Program, Family Hui Initiative and Los Angeles Food Bank Pilot.

COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support

As medical appointments quickly shifted to virtual visits during the pandemic, Health Net launched its COVID-19 Telehealth Capacity Support program to establish and expand telehealth services for Medi-Cal enrollees. In 2020, Health Net awarded 138 Telehealth Capacity grants, totaling $13.4 million, to Medi-Cal providers across California. Grantees identified the following benefits of providing telehealth services:

  • 31% said funding allowed them to conduct routine checkups and wellness visits.
  • 42% indicated that telehealth was an important tool for patient screenings.
  • 17% provided health education, including nutrition, physical activity counseling, and smoking-cessation programs.
  • 16% reported success in providing mental health services.

MLKCH Street Medicine Program

The effects of the pandemic have been particularly difficult for individuals who are experiencing homelessness. That's why Health Net funded the MLKCH Street Medicine program, a collaboration between Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) and University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. The program engages experts in street medicine to help reduce disparities in health outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in South Los Angeles by achieving the following outcomes:

  • Increased connection to primary and specialty medical care;
  • Increased access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment;
  • Improved sanitation and nutrition;
  • Decreased avoidable hospital and emergency department visits;
  • Reduced disparities in hypertension and diabetes control.

Family Hui Initiative

Recognizing the challenges of parenting throughout the pandemic, Health Net funded the community-based organization, Lead4Tomorrow, to provide Family Hui parental, peer-led support groups in Imperial, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Bernardino and San Joaquin counties. Named for the Hawaiian term "Hui" (hoo'ee), a cooperative group working together for a shared purpose, Family Hui aims to promote healthy child development. The program supports and empowers parents and caregivers in the joys of raising their children and addresses the challenges in healthy ways through providing:

  • A trauma-informed parenting curriculum;
  • Leadership training for peer facilitators;
  • Resilience-building activities;
  • Connections for parents to services to build a strong support community.

Los Angeles Food Bank Pilot

With inflation making food more costly, food banks and community organizations need help feeding families who struggle to put food on the table. Health Net awarded the Los Angeles (LA) Regional Food Bank a grant to assist members in managing their health through increased food access and nutrition awareness. The LA Food Bank Pilot program provided home-delivered groceries and went beyond food distribution to sponsor an interactive, educational webinar series on nutrition and its role in managing chronic illness. The pilot worked to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Encourage a relationship between the health plan and its members;
  • Promote healthy lifestyle changes;
  • Provide education on healthy food options and practices;
  • Provide healthy foods to individuals experiencing financial or transportation barriers.

With more than 40 years of experience providing care for the state's most vulnerable residents, Health Net continues to lead the charge to improve health equity with multi-faceted, collaborative and culturally relevant programs and interventions at the statewide and local level. To learn more about Health Net's industry-leading efforts to drive health equity, visit Bridging the Divide and follow Health Net on Facebook and Twitter.

Last Updated: 06/30/2022