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Can Medicaid Programs Tackle the Social Determinants of Health?

Excerpt from blog post originally published by Harbage Consulting (June 12, 2018)

In recent years, there has been an increasing emphasis on improving health outcomes by addressing the social determinants — the environmental and social conditions, like access to safe and affordable housing, education and employment opportunities, and good nutrition – that influence people’s overall health.

While siloed programs and funding streams, conflicting priorities, and lack of coordination and communication across agencies have historically impacted the ability of public programs to work together effectively to address social determinants, Medicaid programs across the country are beginning to tackle the challenge.

Over the past several years, Harbage Consulting has supported clients in implementing innovative Medicaid initiatives that address the social determinants in an effort to improve health outcomes.

California's Medicaid Health Homes Program is an exmaple of a program we have been proud to contribute to that link people to the social supports they need to lead healthier lives.


The California Health Homes Program (HHP) is designed to connect Medi-Cal patients who have multiple chronic conditions and/or a serious mental illness to an enhanced set of care management and coordination services. One of the core services provided under the HHP is ensuring that patients are connected to community resources and social service agencies that help them address their non-medical needs, such as accessing nutrition programs, employment training, and legal services.

The HHP also places a strong emphasis on connecting patients to housing and transportation supports, as these are major barriers to improving patients' health. The HHP is in its early stages and Harbage Consulting is supporting the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) with program design and implementation. This includes policy analysis as well as developing communication and outreach materials for providers, Medi-Cal members, and community-based organizations.


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