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The role of specialized managed care in addressing the intersection of child welfare reform and behavioral health transformation

This week, our In Focus section highlights the efforts of Health Management Associates (HMA) and partner organizations to better coordinate services for children in foster care and for children with behavioral health needs.

First, HMA released an issue brief on November 6, 2023, as part of a partnership between HMA and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Technical Assistance Coalition. Together HMA and NASMHPD experts wrote a series of five briefs on children’s behavioral health.

The brief released last month, “The Role of Specialized Managed Care,” written by HMA experts Heidi Arthur and Angela Bergefurd, with input from Caitlin Thomas-Henkel and Uma Ahluwalia, centered on the intersection of child welfare reform and behavioral health transformation. More specifically, it described how specialized Medicaid managed care plans can ensure better alignment between child welfare and behavioral healthcare services.

The paper emphasizes the role of state-level special needs plans (SNPs) in the delivery of coordinated care and examines the opportunities afforded to states seeking to leverage specialty managed care plans.

Specialized managed care plans can help fill the void by incentivizing the provision of services for children in foster care and specialty services for children with behavioral health needs. Plans in three states — Washington, Arizona, and Ohio — are highlighted, and can serve as examples of how state Medicaid SNPs can be implemented.

Link to Issue Brief

This paper is part of a larger effort that HMA and several partner organizations are supporting. Stakeholders include:

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Casey Family Programs
  • National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD)
  • Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)
  • Administration for Children and Families
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The goal of these collaborations is to foster dialog between state agencies and stakeholders working to improve the well-being of children and youth with complex needs.

Most recently, HMA hosted a webinar December 12, 2023, featuring speakers from the partner organizations to discuss insights from a federal meeting that took place in November. Webinar speakers also informed participants about plans for a multistate policy lab scheduled for February 2024, where representatives of up to eight state child welfare agencies will participate in a two-day workshop on improving the children’s behavioral health continuum of care in their states. The webinar focused on the overall effort and provided a forum for states to hear from this partnership on the importance of collaborating to strengthen the children’s behavioral health system. Watch the webinar here.

For questions about the brief, please contact Heidi Arthur or Angela Bergefurd. For questions about the webinar or the larger effort, please contact Caitlin Thomas-Henkel or Uma Ahluwalia.

Meet the HMA blog contributors

Heidi Arthur

Heidi Arthur, LMSW

New York, NY
Angela Bergefurd

Angela Bergefurd, MPA

Managing Principal
Columbus, OH
Uma Ahluwalia

Uma Ahluwalia, MSW, MHA

Managing Principal
Baltimore, MD