Alliance for Better Health, a convener of providers and community groups, and managed-care organization MVP Health Care have partnered to invest $800,000 over two years in not-for-profit community organizations around Albany, N.Y.
The new partnership, announced Tuesday, is called Healthy Alliance Independent Practice Association. Unlike other IPAs in the U.S., it doesn't involve physicians. Rather, the partnership focuses solely on helping community-based organizations provide services that address social determinants of health, said Dr. Jacob Reider, CEO of the Alliance for Better Health.
"As far as I know this is the only IPA that is explicitly focused on these kinds of organizations," he said.
The IPA is in response to a growing reliance from the healthcare sector on these community-based organizations to address social determinants of health even as they struggle with unstable funding sources. Not-for-profits depend heavily on grants from states and charities, which aren't stable, Reider said. The IPA heard from organizations that said they had to change their priorities when funding changed, which made it difficult to achieve long-term goals.
The alliance will use insurer investments, which Reider said "can persist forever."
MVP Health Care, which has about 190,000 of its 700,000 members on Medicaid, is the first insurer to invest funds. Reider said the IPA is already in talks with other managed-care organizations that want to join.
While the IPA isn't targeting MVP Health Care members specifically, the investment will likely help them, said Dr. Kimberly Kilby, MVP Health Care's regional medical director. Many of their patients struggle with social risk factors.
Healthy Alliance IPA includes 29 community-based organizations, including a food pantry, supportive housing center and homeless shelter.
For the first two years of the alliance, seven organizations will receive their share of the $800,000, but Reider said the additional managed-care organizations plan to invest in the remaining community organizations.
Healthy Alliance plans to track the impact the investments have on patient outcomes. The IPA has a technology platform that both its provider and community-based organization partners have agreed to use that will allow them to send and receive referrals. The service will enable the IPA to track who is using social services and if they have led to improvements in health, Reider said.
"It will be interesting to see how many members outside of the Medicaid population also receive services" from the community-based organizations, Kilby added.