A new project to improve North Carolina’s overall health by providing funding for healthy food, transportation access, housing and counseling officially started last month.
The project, called The Healthy Opportunities Pilot, is the nation’s first program to test and evaluate the impact of using health care dollars to pay for non-medical health-related services designed to reduce medical costs and increase people’s overall health.
The overall goals of the project are to:
- Evaluate the effectiveness of select, evidence-based, non-medical interventions and the role of the Network Leads in improving health outcomes and reducing health care costs for high-risk NC Medicaid Managed Care members.
- Leverage evaluation findings to embed cost-effective interventions that improve health outcomes into the Medicaid program statewide, furthering the department’s goals for a sustainable Medicaid program.
- Support the sustainability of delivering non-medical services identified as effective through the evaluation, including by strengthening the capabilities of Human Service Organizations and partnerships with health care payers and providers.
The project will take place in 33 of the state’s western and eastern North Carolina counties.
Since the project launched last month, 10 people are receiving healthy fruits and vegetables. By the summer of 2023, there is hope to help 13,000 North Carolinians per month, according to WRAL.
“We purposefully started small,” stated state Medicaid director Dave Richard. “We want to make sure that our systems are working, that we can do the kind of referrals that are so critical in this”.
The pilot will be rolled out in three phases: food and hunger-related services on March 15, housing and transportation services on May 1, and lastly, services aimed at promoting interpersonal safety on June 15.
“The system is finally recognizing that these four social determinants underpin any other health efforts. That’s hugely transformational. It’s a complete paradigm shift for the health care system,” stated Paula Sellars, the deputy director of operations at Bounty and Soul. “It’s never been done before”.Learn more about the Healthy Opportunities Pilot program here.