Care Coordination for Children with Special Needs in Medicaid: Lessons from Medicare

Care Coordination for Children with Special Needs in Medicaid: Lessons from Medicare

Published: Apr 16, 2018
Publisher: American Journal of Managed Care, vol. 24, no. 4

Kate A. Stewart

Katharine W.V. Bradley

Joseph S. Zickafoose

Rachel Hildrich

Henry T. Ireys

Randall S. Brown


To provide actionable recommendations for improving care coordination programs for children with special healthcare needs (CSHCN) in Medicaid managed care.

Study Design

Literature review and interviews with stakeholders and policy experts to adapt lessons learned from Medicare care coordination programs for CSHCN in Medicaid managed care.


We reviewed syntheses of research on Medicare care coordination programs to identify lessons learned from successful programs. We adapted findings from Medicare to CSHCN in Medicaid based on an environmental scan and discussions with experts. The scan focused on Medicaid financing and eligibility for care coordination and how these intersect with Medicaid managed care. The expert discussions included pediatricians, Medicaid policy experts, Medicaid medical directors, and a former managed care executive, all experienced in care coordination for CSHCN.


We found 6 elements that are consistently associated with improved outcomes from Medicare care coordination programs and relevant to CSHCN in Medicaid: 1) identifying and targeting high-risk patients, 2) clearly articulating what outcomes programs are likely to improve, 3) encouraging active engagement between care coordinators and primary care providers, 4) requiring some in-person contact between care coordinators and patients, 5) facilitating information sharing among providers, and 6) supplementing care coordinators’ expertise with that of other clinical experts.


States and Medicaid managed care organizations have many options for designing effective care coordination programs for CSHCN. Their choices should account for the diversity of conditions among CSHCN, families’ capacity to coordinate care, and social determinants of health.

Read the related blog.

How do you apply evidence?

Take our quick four-question survey to help us curate evidence and insights that serve you.

Take our survey