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Health Aff (Millwood). 2010 Jul;29(7):1338-42. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0081.

Community health workers: part of the solution.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of Texas, El Paso, USA.


Community health workers are recognized in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as important members of the health care workforce. The evidence shows that they can help improve health care access and outcomes; strengthen health care teams; and enhance quality of life for people in poor, underserved, and diverse communities. We trace how two states, Massachusetts and Minnesota, initiated comprehensive policies to foster far more utilization of community health workers and, in the case of Minnesota, to make their services reimbursable under Medicaid. We recommend that other states follow the lead of these states, further developing the workforce of community health workers, devising appropriate regulations and credentialing, and allowing the services of these workers to be reimbursed.

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