As we enter 2024, and as I continue to analyze Medicaid and Medicare patient outcomes in Louisiana and the nation, I am convinced that good people, reputable health systems, great service providers, smart public policymakers, and many well-meaning managed care organizations want to do the right thing on behalf of vulnerable people and communities. The challenge is that they sometimes need help understanding the nuances associated with the people and their economic, social, and cultural circumstances.
Complex health organizations must have the right intent and financial resources, leadership, personnel, training, the proper technological infrastructure, and sufficient operational policies and procedures. And because of the heightened emphasis on health equity, social determinants of health, and community engagement, many of these organizations will struggle significantly. When this happens, performance penalties will occur, poor patient outcomes will become exacerbated, blaming patients will ensue, bad public policies will proliferate, staff challenges will be more pronounced, and financial waste will become widespread.
Innovative payment models are needed in behavioral and primary health systems. If you pay providers to solve problems, they will. And if you pay them and show them how to address healthcare inequalities comprehensively, they will. In addition to innovative payment models, we must reimagine how vulnerable communities are diagnosed and treated. We understand positive social determinants influence healthy outcomes. Therefore, vulnerable communities should also be prescribed healthy food, affordable housing, quality education, and prosocial relationships along with their psychotropic and primary care medications.
The work we do for the thousands of people we support regionally with our mental health, addiction, primary care, developmental disability, special initiatives, and prevention and wellness services has become more significant because they trust us to help them solve their problems. And because of this earned trust, we will continue to do everything we can to help them resolve the challenges they face regardless of race, class, gender, political ideology, or religious belief. We are the region’s safety-net provider of services. We want the people we serve to be healed, meaningfully connected with others, working, educated, socially responsible, meet other social determinants of health needs, and be contributing members of society.
~ Dr. Monteic A. Sizer, Executive Director