Hennepin Health: A Safety-Net-Accountable Care Organization for the Expanded Medicaid Population

Hennepin Health has had an impact on shifting care from the emergency department (ED) and the hospital to outpatient settings.

Health care payment and delivery models that challenge providers to be accountable for outcomes have fueled interest in community-level partnerships that address the behavioral, social, and economic determinants of health.

The researchers describe how Hennepin Health—a county-based safety-net accountable care organization in Minnesota—has forged such a partnership to redesign the health care workforce and improve the coordination of the physical, behavioral, social, and economic dimensions of care for an expanded community of Medicaid beneficiaries.

Early outcomes suggest that the program has had an impact in shifting care from hospitals to outpatient settings. For example, ED visits decreased 9.1 percent between 2012 and 2013, while outpatient visits increased 3.3 percent. An increasing percentage of patients have received diabetes, vascular, and asthma care at optimal levels. At the same time, Hennepin Health has realized savings and reinvested them in future improvements.

Hennepin Health offers lessons for counties, states, and public hospitals grappling with the problem of how to make the best use of public funds in serving expanded Medicaid populations and other communities with high needs.