Human trafficking summit highlights how Medicaid managed care can help survivors

The conditions that may make someone susceptible to human trafficking can be influenced by social determinants of health ― such as housing or poverty ― which can place Medicaid managed care plans in a position to provide resources to vulnerable populations to overcome those barriers, CareSource leaders say.

“Most people don’t realize CareSource provides coverage to nearly 580,000 children in the state of Ohio. This is important because we serve the vulnerable populations within the Medicaid system,” said Lisa Lucchesi, national human trafficking project manager at CareSource.

A recent summit at CareSource’s Pamela Morris Center in Dayton aimed to educate law enforcement, first responders, educators and others about human trafficking and the barriers victims face, CareSource officials said.

Those impacted the most by human trafficking ― including women and children, children in child welfare and those with developmental disabilities ― may fall under the purview of Medicaid, according to Lucchesi.

Managed care providers can connect survivors of human trafficking to therapists, medical providers, housing and education resources, Lucchesi said, such as CareSource’s Life Services program.

Through its Life Services program, CareSource can link its members to services and support for finding full-time employment, food assistance, transportation, education or training opportunities, housing and resources for budgeting and finances.

“It really helps us in law enforcement because what’s so difficult in these cases, it’s really hard for us to prove a case without the victim. And usually what I have seen is, when we come across a victim, it’s very difficult to try to find them a safe place to be away from their trafficker,” said Major Brian Johns of the Dayton Police Department.

It is difficult to know the number of those impacted by human trafficking in Dayton and other regions, Lucchesi said.

“Human trafficking is a significant problem across this country,” Lucchesi said.

In 2021, the National Human Trafficking Hotline identified 291 cases of human trafficking in Ohio impacting 424 victims involved in these cases. Cases can involve multiple victims.

Since the hotline’s inception in 2007, it has identified 3,102 cases of human trafficking in Ohio impacting 6,013 victims, according to the hotline.

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