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SDOH: Horizon BCBS New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health and state partner on value-based model

Racial disparities show New Jersey's maternal mortality rate is 38.1 deaths per 100,000 births, but among African-American women, it's 102 deaths.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

In the first known partnership of its kind, a major insurer and health system in New Jersey are partnering with the state's Medicaid agency to test innovative solutions to reduce health disparities and maternal and infant mortality rates.

Their efforts to develop a value-based Medicaid model will address the social determinants of health, with the information they gain generating best practice and policy recommendations for national dissemination.

The Advancing Health Equity, founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, selected the state's Medicaid agency, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and RWJBarnabas Health for the two-year model.

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The Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative also awarded six other teams. All seven will design integrated healthcare delivery and payment reforms to reduce health disparities and then implement these efforts at healthcare delivery organizations and surrounding communities.

The two-year collaborative launches on October 2.

The New Jersey collaborative is concentrating on reducing maternal and infant mortality rates that are currently among the highest in the nation. It is expected to implement reforms to combat racial disparities among maternal-child health for Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare members.


Health systems and insurers are increasingly addressing the social determinants of health to get to the underlying factors for many chronic conditions, to improve health and to lower the cost of care.

New Jersey ranks 45th among all 50 states in maternal mortality with 38.1 deaths per 100,000 births, according to a 2018 Health of Women and Children Report, . The mortality rate among African-American women is 102 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is the highest among all states.


In addition to New Jersey, the Advancing Health Equity Learning Collaborative chose the states of Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Washington to work collaboratively with health systems.

The Advancing Health Equity: Leading Care, Payment, and Systems Transformation program is a University of Chicago organization founded and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and conducted in partnership with the Institute for Medicaid Innovation and the Center for Health Care Strategies. 

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is a tax-paying, not-for-profit health service corporation. 

RWJBarnabas Health is a comprehensive academic healthcare system that includes 11 acute care hospitals.

The application for the award was submitted by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, RWJBarnabas Health and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Medical Assistance and Health Services.


"With the collective resources, reach and commitment we bring to this effort, our team is uniquely qualified to develop innovative solutions that make New Jersey a model state for improving maternal health and making sure all children get the healthy start in life they deserve," said Mark Barnard, executive vice president of Government Programs and Operations for Horizon BCBSNJ.

"Our anticipated work with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Jersey City Medical Center will focus on closing racial health disparities in maternal-child health among New Jersey's Medicaid population," said Jennifer G. Velez, executive vice president, Community and Behavioral Health, RWJBarnabas Health.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
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Focus on Social Determinants of Health

In September, Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare IT News and MobiHealthNews will take a look at the SDOH and how varied health systems, IT companies, Congress and others are addressing it.