On the latest episode of The Next Big Thing in Health podcast, our guest is Chris Priest, Vice President of Medicaid Solutions for Centene. He shares what the health insurance provider is doing to promote better community health and vaccine acceptance.
Listen to the full interview on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, and Stitcher.
Matt Eyles: Your organization is focused on what you call “whole health solutions.” Can you talk about what you mean by that?
Chris Priest: It’s physical health, it’s behavioral health, and it’s social health. Let’s talk about food insecurity. For adults living at or below the poverty level, lower food security is directly associated with significantly higher probability of chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes or kidney disease. If we address issues like food security, then health outcomes will improve along with it.
We are working with our state partners, our provider partners, and our members to make sure we’re addressing the needs and unique challenges in the community. But we’re doing it in a very local way. Because you have local partners that we want to work with to help transform the health of our communities. And it’s so critically important, especially now as we continue to come out of the pandemic. More than ever, that approach is not only what the states are looking for, but members are looking for in order to live healthy and productive lives.
Laura Evans: Vaccine hesitancy is still a big issue in this country and many communities. How is Centene addressing the issue of vaccine hesitancy?
Chris Priest: We’ve partnered with the Pro Football Hall of Fame to do public service announcements encouraging individuals throughout the country to go get vaccinated so we can put this pandemic behind us and begin to get back to normal. We’re also reaching out to members. We want to make sure that all of our members have access to these amazing, safe and effective vaccines. Overall, really it’s about outreach and access. Centene is committed and actively working with our state and federal partners to try and make sure that everyone has access.
Matt Eyles: Can you talk about how telehealth has been working for the Medicaid population?
Chris Priest: When the pandemic started, concerns about access were justifiable raised. And I think you saw many states take actions to lower regulatory barriers for things that would prohibit access to telehealth. What we’ve seen are dramatic increases in the use of telehealth. And we worked with our Federally Qualified Health Centers partners and others to try and make sure that we were getting access to our members in an effective way.
We gave $5 million to the Medicaid Telehealth Partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers to better enhance solutions and meet members where they are, especially given that the Federally Qualified Health Centers are where a lot of Medicaid members access care.
Working collaboratively with our provider partners and national vendors, we have been able to increase access to telehealth for our Medicaid members. I think this is something that is going to continue to evolve. I actually had a telehealth visit during the pandemic and it was great. There was no waiting room and I was able to talk to my doctor laying in my bed. It’s something that I think is going to increase significantly and continue to evolve.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.