Briefs & Reports

HMA report compares quality outcomes across state Medicaid program delivery models

A recently completed analysis of the impact of Medicaid managed care on key quality indicators found managed care organizations (MCO) outperformed fee-for-service (FFS) and primary care case management (PCCM) programs for both Child and Adult Core Set measures, once the data was normalized with respect to beneficiary distribution in each model.

The resulting report was in response to more states transitioning Medicaid beneficiaries from FFS to MCOs with a goal of reducing costs and improving quality. The HMA team, David Wedemeyer, Anthony Davis, Sharon Silow-Carroll, and Joe Moser, used the 2019 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Core Set of Adult and Child metrics that cross the care continuum to develop a standardization model. The model aimed to classify quality outcomes on a state-by-state basis, based on the percent of members in direct FFS arrangements, MCOs, and PCCM programs.

The analysis suggested that performance differences could be attributed to the fact MCOs have structured care coordination and specialized programs, such as disease management, population health programs, and social determinants of health programs in place. As the HMA team drilled down into sub-sections of the Core Set related to key domains such as preventive care, women’s health, disease management, and behavioral health, the findings were consistent in that MCOs tended to perform higher overall when compared to FFS and PCCM across all major domain categories.

In summary, HMA’s findings suggest that the growth of Medicaid managed care plans has led to higher quality scores in several core areas of adult and child measures, lending support to the idea that managed care has had a positive impact overall on the quality of care for Medicaid members across the country. Additionally, HMA’s review of the data and the team’s deep understanding of state oversight of managed care programs suggests that when a state strongly embraces a quality improvement framework as a long-term strategy and partners with its managed care plans on performance-based contracts, quality scores and outcomes may be stronger. The report also suggests that stronger state efforts to work with managed care plans to develop clear expectations and collaboration, while also leveraging MCOs’ access to clinical and quality data sources, may contribute to higher quality scores.

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