OHS: Health Enhancement Community Framework Approved
Connecticut Poised to Take Expansive Community Collaborative Approach to Health
(HARTFORD, CT) – The Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) announced that the State Innovation Model Healthcare Innovation Steering Committee has approved the Health Enhancement Community (HEC) initiative proposed framework, a blueprint to build or expand collaborations across the state to improve healthy weight and physical fitness, advance child well-being, and strengthen health equity. Health Enhancement Communities will further residents’ health and well-being by addressing both clinical need and the social determinants that impact overall health.
OHS Executive Director Vicki Veltri said, “Uniting communities around common goals and investing in health and prevention efforts can help make Connecticut the healthiest state in the country—that’s important for our residents, our businesses, and our economy. HECs would help ensure that residents are able to meet fundamental needs, achieve health goals, and thrive throughout their lives. I want to thank the Steering Committee and the hundreds of participants who gave their time and expertise in support of this path to community health and health equity. Connecticut is poised to lead the way with HECs and improve population health.”
The proposed framework envisions Health Enhancement Communities as regional formal collaborations that effectively connect community members; healthcare providers; housing and transportation agencies; social services; and others in furtherance of community health and disease prevention efforts. Each region may employ a different strategy, but all Health Enhancement Communities would address the root causes of poor health and develop opportunities for all residents to experience good health such as creating better access to safe, affordable housing; fresh, healthy food; and educational and economic opportunity.
OHS Director of Healthcare Innovation Mark Schaefer said, “This is an ambitious model that reflects OHS’ commitment to sustainable solutions to improve community health. Investing in more expansive and collaborative community health and prevention efforts helps solve the non-clinical issues that impact health. Our federal partners have been key to our progress to date and their ongoing participation is essential for Connecticut to lead the way on prevention. We appreciate all of the work that the Steering Committee did, and the hundreds of residents who helped us ensure a community-led approach to building stronger communities.”
In February 2018, a partnership between the State Innovation Model program office, now part of the Office of Health Strategy, and the Department of Public Health Population Health Council was established to conduct outreach and community engagement activities that would inform the design process for the HEC framework. Feedback from more than 275 participants and groups from communities that could help implement or would benefit from HECs is integral to the draft plan that was disseminated for public comment. Driven by common goals to improve community health, multiple stakeholders provided guidance and evolved the blueprint to include a specific health equity goal, a refined HEC governance structure, and flexibility for HECs to select which interventions they would implement. The framework and technical report reflect these public discussions as well as the recommendations of the Population Health Council and its HEC design teams.
Establishing and sustaining HECs will be a discussion point for the next phase of work, a community-led HEC planning and development process. While most decisions about a Health Enhancement Community’s scope and reach will made by community members and organizations, long-term financing will rely in part on partnerships with healthcare purchasers such as Medicare, Medicaid, and self-insured employers—entities that benefit from shared savings. Preliminary analysis shows that HECs in conjunction with primary care reforms have the potential to reduce state Medicare spending by 2.4 percent over the 10-year demonstration period 2021-2030. Even a small decrease in Medicare expenditures over a 5- or 10-year time frame would result in billions of dollars saved.
Health Enhancement Communities are part of larger healthcare reform efforts undertaken by OHS and its partners.
The OHS State Innovation Model program is funded by a grant from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. The Healthcare Innovation Steering Committee approved the HEC framework at its meeting on May 9, 2019.
 Analysis conducted by Health Management Associates and Airam Actuarial Consulting in collaboration with OHS and DPH.
Contact: Juliet Manalan
Communications Director, Connecticut Office of Health Strategy
450 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106