Understanding the Diversity of the Medicaid Population in Massachusetts : The Faces of MassHealth to Highlight Real People Who Rely on Medicaid

Natalie Litton

Natalie Litton, Policy & Project Coordinator
Health Care for All

Do you have a mental picture of the people who enroll in Medicaid for their health insurance?

To increase understanding of the Medicaid population in Massachusetts, Health Care For All (HCFA) is collaborating with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation and Manatt Health on a project called The Faces of MassHealth.

In Massachusetts, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) are combined into one program called MassHealth. Despite significant growth in MassHealth enrollment over the past decade – from 1.1 million in 2007 to 1.9 in 2017 – few people understand the different types of individuals and families who rely on this important coverage. While there are some high level resources available on the populations served (e.g., MassHealth the Basics, 1115 waiver application, MassHealth’s monthly caseload snapshot reports), there are no ready resources which delve deeper to provide data and a picture of the different populations served. This project aims to close that gap.

By presenting both a quantitative overview of the MassHealth population and a set of qualitative profiles of MassHealth members, this project will illustrate the breadth and diversity of the individuals and families who depend on MassHealth coverage to access the health care they need. The goal of the publication is to help policy makers and other interested stakeholders better understand the diverse population served by the MassHealth program across the Commonwealth.

HCFA is leading the creation of the qualitative component of this project, which will consist of a set of 5-7 one-page profiles of MassHealth members. Each profile will bring to life real people who are enrolled in MassHealth by exploring both their experience with MassHealth coverage as well as other defining aspects of their lives in order to paint a fuller, human picture.

Seeking MassHealth Members to Share Their Stories
HCFA is working with organizational partners across Massachusetts to identify individuals to be profiled and, in doing so, seeks a diversity of key characteristics including age, gender, race, language, geographic location, stability of housing, education level, disability status, employment status and health care needs.

Do you and/or your family member have MassHealth? Do you depend on MassHealth coverage to access the mental health services you need? Does your child receive care through the services of the Children’s Behavioral Health Initiative (CBHI)?

If you would like to share your story and/or would like more information about the project, please contact Natalie Litton, HCFA’s Policy & Project Coordinator at nalitton@hcfama.org or (617) 275-2897.

Editor’s Note: See the following post for background information about Medicaid stereotypes and their current implications.


Your Turn

  • What is your image of a person or family enrolled in Medicaid?
  • How do you think we can dispel unfair negative stereotypes of Medicaid enrollees?

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Bio

As Health Care For All’s Policy and Project Coordinator, Natalie Litton provides research, analysis, coalition coordination, event planning, and overall administrative support for HCFA’s children’s health, public health insurance, and payment and delivery system reform work. Natalie co-authored HCFA’s recently released report “The Urgency of Early Engagement: Five Persistent Barriers to Mental Health Treatment, Care and Recovery in Massachusetts and the Search for Solutions,” which was the culmination of a comprehensive assessment on the state of access to mental health services in Massachusetts. Before coming to HCFA, Natalie worked at the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts (NAMI Mass) where she assisted with the Criminal Justice Diversion Project, legislative advocacy, and fundraising efforts. Natalie received a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors in Political Science and History from Swarthmore College.


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