High ranking health care officials from the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Human Services, and the Hennepin County Department of Health and Human Services met with 200 faith and community leaders at a public gathering on Dec. 8, 2011, organized by ISAIAH.  At the meeting officials each committed to developing a focus on racial equity and community participation in the design of new health care systems for low income residents, and in particular, a demonstration project in Hennepin County.

The Affordable Care Act recently passed by Congress allows for the creation of a new health delivery system – an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) – that provides cost savings that could be used for reinvestment in preventive health measures. In the coming months, Hennepin County will submit a proposal to the Minnesota Department of Human Services for an ACO Demonstration Project.

“Unlike the dominant perspective that says health comes from access to the doctor, we know that health is created by everything that happens to us – individually and collectively – before we ever get to the doctor,” declared Anna Lynn, co-chair of the gathering. “Health is about access or lack of access to opportunity and everything that shapes that path from racism to affordable transportation and housing.”

The demonstration project will serve 12,000 of Hennepin County’s most at risk Medicaid beneficiaries, 68% are people of color. People covered by Medicaid are living in deep poverty and are among the most vulnerable populations in the state. They often receive no preventive care and are frequent users of emergency room care, which results in poor health outcomes at a high cost to the individual and community.

You may also be interested in:  A new health care system for Hennepin County
 – Insight News – 12/19/11