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RISE Special Needs Plan Leadership Summit

Why Individuals with IDD Should Be Considered a "Health Disparities" Population

Partners Health Plan CEO Kerry Delaney and Medical Director Steven Merahn, MD, showcased their leadership and expertise at the 12th Annual Special Needs Plan (SNP) Leadership Summit. The summit (May 24-26), organized by RISE, brings together influential figures in the health plan industry to share insights on enhancing patient outcomes.

Delaney and Dr. Merahn had the privilege of opening the summit and delivering a presentation titled "Intellectual and Developmental Disability: A Health Disparities Population." The presentation demonstrated how Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) should be classified by federal and state governments as a “health disparities population.”

More than three decades after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), disabled Americans still face barriers to health care, lower quality of care, and disparate health outcomes. The IDD population faces challenges regarding access to health care for their urgent and long-term needs. Further, they struggle with inequitable access to transportation, education, housing, employment and other non-medical determinants of health. Existing health, economic and social policies worsen these disparities.

Throughout their presentation, Delaney and Dr. Merahn examined individuals with IDD to address the distinct patterns of conditions, functional limitations, and risk factors that impact their health quality. Recognizing that traditional SNP operations and care models may not sufficiently support goal achievement for individuals with IDD, they explored IDD through the lens of health disparities. This approach allows for the development of a person-centered care model that accounts for functional, home, and community supports.

The presentation also provided valuable insights into the challenges and best practices for caring for individuals with IDD, with the goal of generating value not only for members, but for family/caregivers, provider networks, and the plan itself.