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Cook County Connections: Care Coordination for Persons with Disabilities and those 65 Years and Older

Sep 15, 2023 08:52AM ● By Content Editor
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From Cook County, Minnesota - September 15, 2023

By: Rachael Schauer, Adult Services Social Worker, Cook County Public Health & Human Services

Cook County Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) is one of many county health and human services agencies across the state that contracts with managed care companies to provide Care Coordination for persons with disabilities and individuals aged 65 and older. The following plans, administered by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), offer Care Coordination as a benefit: Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO), Minnesota Senior Care Plus (MSC+), and Special Needs Basic Care (SNBC). Cook County PHHS currently contracts with BlueCross BlueShield, Medica, and UCare to provide Care Coordination to around 120 residents of Cook County. 

Managed Care Plans Available in Cook County

  • Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO)

MSHO is a health plan for individuals aged 65 and older who have both Medicare Part A and Part B in addition to Medical Assistance. MSHO offers the same benefits as Medicare and Medical Assistance do on their own and combines them into one package. This allows members to have one insurance card for all their health care needs, including prescription drug coverage. There is no monthly premium for this plan, however, members may pay a copay for certain health care services. 

  • Minnesota Senior Care Plus (MSC+)

MSC+ is a health plan for individuals aged 65 and older who are recipients of Medical Assistance.  MSC+ does not roll a recipient’s Medicare and prescription drug benefits into one plan, which results in members having multiple insurance cards for each kind of coverage. There is no monthly premium for this plan, however, members may pay a copay for certain health care services.

  • Special Needs Basic Care (SNBC)

SNBC is a voluntary managed care program for individuals who are certified blind or disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or State Medical Review Team (SMRT), age 18-64 years old and receive Medical Assistance (MA). There are no co-pays for MA-covered services, prescriptions, and over-the-counter drugs as well as no health plan premiums, deductibles, or copays.

Benefits and Services of Managed Care Plans

Eligible recipients receive a variety of benefits and services through managed care plans, which may include the following:

  • Care coordination
  • Primary care visits
  • Dental and vision care
  • Hospital care
  • Emergency room care
  • Nursing Home care
  • Labs and x-rays
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Fitness membership, supplies, and online classes
  • Home health services
  • Interpreter services
  • Support for caregivers
  • Support for tobacco cessation
  • Non-emergency medical transportation to and from appointments
  • Home and community-based services (Elderly Waiver program only)

Care Coordination – How it works

Cook County PHHS has three social workers providing Care Coordination to individuals enrolled in MSHO, MSC+, and SNBC. Care Coordinators contact all newly enrolled members and offer to perform an assessment of their health and safety needs. After the assessment, Care Coordinators work with members to develop a personalized Care Plan that identifies formal and informal supports, health needs, and goals.  Each health plan designates its own schedule for Care Coordinators to remain in regular contact with members throughout the year. Individuals with higher needs may have more frequent contact with their Care Coordinator, especially during times of transition (i.e., medical crises or a change in health condition indicating a need for increased care). Additionally, Care Coordinators support members as obstacles arise, such as resolving billing issues, scheduling medical appointments and transportation, answering questions about health insurance coverage, making choices regarding care, completing paperwork, and arranging for services to support individuals to continue living in their homes for as long as safely possible. It’s important to note that Care Coordinators walk alongside individuals as they make their health care and future planning decisions and foster autonomy. Care Coordination is an optional support and members dictate how they choose to engage with available supports. 

Study released by CMS showed improved outcomes for seniors enrolled in MSHO

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Minnesota Managed Care Longitudinal Data Analysis Study in 2016. The study found that seniors enrolled in the integrated Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) program experience improved outcomes. 

This study provides strong support for continued integration of Medicare and Medicaid for people eligible for both programs. The study compared the experiences of similar beneficiaries inside and outside of MSHO and found that MSHO enrollees were:

  • 48 percent less likely to have a hospital stay, and those who were hospitalized had 26 percent fewer stays,
  • 6 percent less likely to have an outpatient emergency department visit, and those who did visit an emergency department had 38 percent fewer visits, and
  • 2.7 times more likely to have visited a primary care doctor at least once in the year.

Cook County PHHS is available to answer questions about eligibility for managed care programs by calling 218-387-3620.

A Word of Thanks to Our Partners

Cook County PHHS works with the following entities to provide support for individuals enrolled in managed care programs: AEOA, Cook County Veteran Services Officer, Care Partners of Cook County, Grand Portage Health Services, Grand Portage Human Services, The Elderly Nutrition Program, The Hub Senior Center, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, North Shore Health, North Shore Living Care Center, North Shore Home Care, Cook County Higher Education, the Violence Prevention Center, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. We extend our gratitude to these partner agencies for the support they provide for our community!

Article Sources:

Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) page, DHS website:

SNBC page, DHS website:

Medical Assistance (MA) Eligibility:

Medical Assistance (MA) / Minnesota Department of Human Services (

Learn more about Managed Care Coordination and the Cook County Public Health and Human Services department at the September 19 PHHS Board Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the Cook County Commissioners Room. The meeting is available to live stream on the Cook County website at You can also visit our website at, contact us via email at [email protected], find us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS or Instagram @cook_county_phhs to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of Cook County.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

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