We describe an effort to improve the care of Medicaid and uninsured individuals through a three-way partnership between a Medicaid managed care insurer, front-line providers, and an academic university. The project provided annual funding over eleven years, for research, pilot programs, and demonstration projects. Projects were provider-driven in design and methods. The Medicaid-managed care insurer-funded proposals were vetted by a neutral university team experienced in grant writing and community-based research and scored by a community-based review panel. The grant program ran from 2007 to 2018, funding 41 projects, totaling USD 2,097,842. The partnership of an insurer, a university, and frontline providers was not only viable and sustainable for over a decade, but also flexible, free of project selection issues, and well-received by all stakeholders. Funded providers worked in both urban and rural settings and included hospitals, community non-profits, outpatient clinics, academic and community health partnerships, and public health agencies. The projects generally reflected common issues in the Medicaid and uninsured population needs, such as childhood obesity, and they were consistent with the targeted goals of the program. Broad health foci included child and/or maternal health, chronic conditions, mental health, preventive health, screening, system effectiveness, special populations including refugees, Latinos, and rural individuals, and substance use disorders. Details of the awarded grantee goals, the grants management process, and lessons learned from the partnership are presented. The partnership triad model was effective and stable, with each partner adding unique value. The use of the academic institution to administrate the program provided an arms-length relationship between the insurer and the providers in project selection and allowed assistance to less experienced researchers in community settings.
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