Medicaid Innovation Collaborative logo.

The Medicaid Innovation Collaborative is helping AZ, HI and WV adopt digital behavioral health solutions. APPLY TO THEIR OPEN RFP! The opportunity is especially ripe for technology and innovation to address the mental health and substance use care needs of Medicaid populations.

Innovation has the potential to address persistent challenges to health equity in Medicaid populations. The opportunity is especially ripe for technology and innovation to address the mental health and substance use care needs of Medicaid populations. 

Unfortunately, there are many barriers for states and managed care organizations (MCOs) to adopt digital health and innovation. BUT! There’s good news: The Medicaid Innovation Collaborative (MIC) is a new initiative bringing together key stakeholders to deploy digital health and care delivery innovations to exactly these populations. 

We talked with Karissa Godzik, Program Manager of the Medicaid Innovation Collaborative, about the states they are working with (Arizona, Hawaii and West Virginia) and their open RFPs for behavioral health startups to apply and partner with these states. (DEADLINE IS TUESDAY, APRIL 19TH - DON’T MISS OUT!). 

What is the Medicaid Innovation Collaborative?

Medicaid Innovation Collaborative, or MIC for short, aims to enable the Medicaid ecosystem to advance health equity through high-impact innovation. We believe that health startups can close critical gaps in care access, quality, and social determinants as well as boost the great work that’s already happening on the ground. Our program focuses on reducing the barriers to adoption and scale for these companies.

Our model provides a structured approach to deploying innovation. We built a framework to define a health equity challenge, supported by data and the perspectives of beneficiaries, to identify best practices and policies that enable innovation, and to find and implement solutions that can address these challenges. For this to be successful, all Medicaid stakeholders need to be involved, and we’re building a coalition of states, health plans, community representatives, and organizations committed to this work. 

MIC was launched by three organizations committed to serving the U.S.’s low-income, most vulnerable and underserved communities: Acumen America, Adaptation Health, and The Center for Health Care Strategies. Our work also wouldn’t have been possible without the catalytic support of The MolinaCares Accord, CommonSpirit Health, and Hopelab.

What barriers prevent States and MCOs from adopting innovation, particularly those that drive health equity? 

From states, we’ve heard that it comes down to limitations in resources, time, and ability to track impact. Federal and state administrations can change quickly and frequently, so it can make it hard to plan long term, not to mention how long it can take to propose and launch new initiatives. And when states do want to drive towards certain outcomes, they may have to wait months or years to collect the appropriate baseline data and start to realize improvements, all while coordinating with multiple managed care plans to get the right metrics and reporting in place. 

On the managed care side, first and foremost, they are working to meet their contractual obligations while trying to navigate varying state requirements. They typically find it more difficult to engage members, and plans don’t necessarily have the data they need to draw conclusions about the kinds of initiatives that would support their goals. Even when interested in adopting innovation, the time and effort to source, evaluate, and onboard vendor solutions is a real obstacle for many of these plans. 

Who are your program participants and what can they expect from the program? 

Our program aims to engage all Medicaid stakeholders, but the program is championed by state Medicaid agencies. Each cohort begins with state Medicaid agencies who commit to 1) a shared health equity priority and 2) rallying their managed care plans to achieve this goal. For our current cohort, we have Arizona, Hawaii, and West Virginia, who selected behavioral health as their priority, and all 15 of their health plans participating in the cohort. 

Central to the MIC model, we also work to elevate the voice of Medicaid beneficiaries and other community advocates throughout key phases of the program. Beyond participating in in-depth interviews, we ask community representatives to join a Community Advisory Board, which guides the areas of focus and criteria for the request for information, vendor selection, and solution implementation. 

For their participation, states receive technical assistance from the Center for Health Care Strategies as well as facilitated collaboration with their peers in other states. States and their health plans both get access to the primary research conducted with beneficiaries and the organizations and providers that care for them, providing deeper insight into the lived experience and real challenges faced by those they serve. All of the work culminates in an innovation showcase, which provides states and health plans access to vetted companies and their solutions, which are sourced through an MIC-led national request for information. Selected companies will have the opportunity to be considered for contracting and implementation.  

You have a new RFI open! What startups should apply and where can they go to do so?

The 2022 Cohort is looking to identify private-sector, tech-enabled solutions that address behavioral health challenges for adolescents in Arizona and West Virginia and pregnant and postpartum women in Hawaii. 

For adolescent behavioral health, we’re looking for companies that provide: (1) navigation and coordination of care, resources, and services for adolescents and their families, and (2) alternative care models to address early intervention, crisis response, and ongoing follow-up services. 

For maternal behavioral health, we’re looking for companies that can enable, navigate, and coordinate behavioral health care for expecting and new moms. 

Selected organizations will present their solution to state and managed care leaders in May 2022, with the potential to engage health plans for future contracting opportunities. 

The application closes next Tuesday, April 19th, and there is no fee to apply.

Application and additional information can be found here: