New health care contracts for metro-area families, children prioritize equity, collaboration with counties
November 2, 2021
New contracts for public health care programs serving families and children in the Twin Cities metro area will help Minnesota make progress on eliminating disparities and increasing equitable health outcomes.
On Monday, the Minnesota Department of Human Services finalized $3.87 billion in managed care contracts to serve approximately 600,000 children, parents and pregnant people in the seven-county metro area in 2022. The contracts with health plans cover MinnesotaCare and a large share of Medical Assistance through the Prepaid Medical Assistance Program.
DHS finalized contracts with Blue Plus, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Medica, UCare and United Healthcare.
The latest contracting process prioritized efforts to address equity and eliminate health disparities, with health plans required to respond to relevant questions, such as:
• How has your organization approached disparities in well-child visits?
• How do your network providers advance equity and reduce health disparities? What percentage of your network is included in the initiatives described?
“Together with our county partners, we’re embedding equity into our work and adding accountability measures in the contracts to evaluate health outcomes,” said Commissioner Jodi Harpstead. “We are uniquely positioned through these contracts to make changes that ensure Minnesota is a place where everyone can be healthy.”
DHS and counties, including the Association of Minnesota Counties and Minnesota Association of County Social Service Administrators, collaborated on the development and scoring of the questions in the request for proposals.
”This marks the most collaborative managed care procurement process in recent years,” said Julie Ring, executive director of the Association of Minnesota Counties. “The state and counties worked closely together throughout the last year to ensure the process met our shared goals of ensuring enrollees remain at the center of our programs and eliminating disparities that exist within the health care system.”
United Healthcare won public program contracts for the first time in Minnesota and will be an option in all seven counties. In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation allowing for-profit health plans to compete for managed care contracts along with nonprofit managed care organizations. For-profit health plans are subject to the same participation requirements, medical loss ratio reporting and financial reviews.
As in past rounds of contracting, counties recommended how many plans to offer their residents and which health plans they preferred. Ramsey and Scott counties chose to keep the same number of health plans serving their communities, so the three top-scoring health plans were selected. This means that Blue Plus will no longer be an option in Ramsey and Scott counties, but will continue to serve the rest of the metro area.
Blue Plus enrollees in Ramsey and Scott counties will have the option this fall to choose among the three plans awarded contracts: Health Partners, UCare and United HealthCare. Enrollees who don’t pick a new health plan will receive additional reminders to choose a health plan and will be automatically enrolled into a health plan if they fail to do so. They will also have additional time to switch to a different health plan.
No enrollees will lose coverage or covered services due to the contract changes. Contract changes also will cause little disruption in pharmacy coverage, since DHS switched to a uniform preferred drug list to provide consistency in prescription drugs across health plans.
The new contracts will increase rates for payments to health plans to account for investments by the Legislature in public health care programs, including additional spending on behavioral health, dental care and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. The state’s actuary sets the rates based on actual costs and analysis of cost trends.