Financing Community Health Workers: An Analysis of Emerging Opportunities in New York State
August 18, 2014
A community health worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who also functions as a trusted member of the community in which they serve, and will often have an in-depth understanding of the needs of the community that goes beyond the traditional health system.
While numerous studies have documented the importance and benefits of implementing CHWs into the health delivery system and the Affordable Care Act continues to push for their integration, steady sources of financing for this workforce are often lacking. In 2014, NYHealth awarded the Community Health Worker Network of NYC (CHW Network) a grant to examine existing policies surrounding CHWs and identify financing and staffing models that support the integration of CHWs in New York State’s health system.
Under this grant, CHW Network developed a set of practices and recommendations for securing CHW funding by analyzing three different funding opportunities: a 2013 ruling by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on reimbursement for preventive services; the State’s proposed Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment plan; and the implementation of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO) model, in which many of New York’s 18 ACOs currently employ CHWs through grant-funded programs. CHW Network interviewed key stakeholders and leaders in the field to discuss ways to operationalize the practices and recommendations from its analysis. Finally, CHW Network disseminated and advanced its findings through print and electronic distributions, meetings with policymakers and stakeholders at national and statewide associations, and strategic planning sessions.