ST. PAUL, Minn. – Starting Monday, the State of Minnesota will work with private health plans to improve equity and access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Participating health plans include Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthPartners, Hennepin Health, Itasca Medical Care, Medica, PreferredOne, PrimeWest Health, South Country Health Alliance, and UCare. They will work with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to identify residents most impacted by the coronavirus and face barriers getting vaccinated to connect them with vaccination opportunities.
“Immunizing for impact requires us to measure our success not only by how fast we are able to get the most Minnesotans vaccinated but also by how we are reaching communities at highest risk for COVID-19 who have already been hardest hit by the pandemic,” says Dr. Nathan Chomilo, COVID-19 vaccine equity director for MDH and Medicaid medical director for DHS. “Our Minnesota health plans have found unique ways to support their members’ and communities’ health and this partnership will allow all of us to expand our resources, coordinate efforts to get more Minnesotans connected to lifesaving vaccines and continue to build a more just and community-driven approach to health.”
State officials say the partnership will work to reach those enrolled in Minnesota Health Care Programs (MHCPs), such as Medical Assistance (MA) and MinnesotaCare, who live in ZIP codes with high social vulnerability index (SVI) scores and have not been vaccinated for COVID-19. The health plans will work with the state to contact members and provide information on vaccination, assist with scheduling appointments and help plan for their vaccination, including arranging transportation or other services, if needed.
“This commitment to vaccinate the most at-risk populations will not only go a long way toward beating back COVID-19, but help us close other health disparities that are far too prevalent in Minnesota,” says Lucas Nesse, president and CEO of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans. “Minnesota’s health plans are continually looking for strategies to best reach vulnerable communities, and we look forward to working with the state on this critical initiative.”
An analysis done last year by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center of 2018 data showed that approximately 44% of African American, 39% of Native American, 31% of Hispanic and 20% of Asian Minnesotans under the age of 65 rely on MHCPs for health care coverage.