Safety Net Health Plans Launch Strategy to Advance Health Equity


Fueled by data collection, ACAP approach helps Safety Net Health Plans further increase equity through three-part approach

The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) and its 74 nonprofit member health plans are calling on Federal policymakers to dramatically increase support for addressing social determinants of health (SDOH). It’s part of ACAP’s three-pronged approach to increase equity among plan beneficiaries, who have low incomes, are disproportionately from communities of color, and may live with disabilities.

The request is among the features of a just-released Pathway to Improve Health Equity from ACAP, which provides a framework for policymakers and not-for-profit, Safety Net Health Plans to reduce health disparities and improve equity in health outcomes.

The pathway calls for a three-part approach:

  • Building consideration of equity into all future projects,
  • Identifying focused actions to achieve impact in the near term, and
  • Collaborating with other health care stakeholders.

Essential to succeeding in each area, ACAP leaders say, is robust data collection to support improvement on equity measures, pursuing public policies that improve equity, and listening and learning from the experiences of other plans.

“Increasing health equity requires a shared commitment from policymakers and health plans,” said Margaret A. Murray, Chief Executive Officer of ACAP. “With an intentional focus on measuring and reporting data, and more support for policies that improve health care coverage, Safety Net Health Plans will continue to lead the way in meaningful, innovative progress on health equity. Policymakers can support these important efforts by backing policies that allow plans to address social determinants of health as an essential element of health care.”

ACAP’s Pathway asks policymakers to fund more benefits aimed at addressing social determinants of health, including food, transportation, and housing programs. The Pathway urges policymakers to promote access to health care by establishing continuous eligibility for people covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to 12 months.

The Pathway includes examples of ACAP members’ leadership advancing health equity. For example, CenCal Health of Santa Barbara, Calif. developed a bicultural, bilingual Member Services Department to assist members and partnered with local community organizations to advance health messaging. Texas Children’s Health Plan of Houston mandated intensive cultural competency training for all care coordinators to ensure that all individuals receive culturally appropriate and respectful assistance.

A core element of ACAP’s approach is a new learning collaborative to help Safety Net Health Plans advance equity across their members. The two-year program, to be run in partnership with the Center for Health Care Strategies, will work to address health disparities. At the collaborative’s conclusion, health plans will have developed and vetted a health equity strategic plan.

“There are no silver bullets to solve the widespread, systemic disparities that plague America’s health care system, but there are concrete actions that can move the needle,” said Christopher D. Palmieri, President and CEO of Massachusetts-based Commonwealth Care Alliance and chair of ACAP’s Board of Directors. “Health equity can progress from an aspiration to a reality, but it requires policymakers to work with health plans and others in new and deliberate ways. The Pathway fuels that process.”


About the Association for Community Affiliated Plans

The Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) is a national trade association which represents 74 not-for-profit Safety Net Health Plans. Collectively, ACAP plans serve more than twenty million enrollees. For more information, visit