Back To Articles

Study Shows Gaps in Supportive Housing Services; Identifies Key Opportunities to Strengthen Medicaid

July 20, 2016

PHAN along with our partners, The Housing Alliance of PA, the PA Health Law Project and Project HOME, launched the Housing as Health Coalition to unite the health and housing communities to advocate for policies that link housing and health. Today the Housing as Health Coalition released a new analysis of Pennsylvania’s Medicaid program that identifies key gaps and highlights cost effective opportunities to strengthen the services people need to stay housed and healthy.

Regular and consistent treatment for substance use disorders, mental health issues, HIV/AIDS, or chronic or co-occurring conditions is difficult when patients lack safe, stable, and affordable homes. Without a place to sleep, patients can’t keep track of medications, or keep up with appointments. Strong evidence supports connecting housing with services to help people stay housed and stay healthy:  these are known as supportive housing services. A person in housing with supportive services is more likely to stay housed, less likely to return to the streets, and more likely to manage their physical and behavioral health conditions.

This report authored by CSH, shows us that folks with a primary diagnosis of a  substance use disorders currently have no access to supportive housing services, and while many providers are able to offer services, they are struggling with maintaining those supports using Medicaid as a resource. Gaps also exist in case management and in getting folks the help they need to successfully move in to housing and keep that housing once they are there. We could also benefits from broader access to Medicaid waivers.

Last year, the Federal Centers on Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) outlined supportive housing services that were eligible for Medicaid coverage, if states chose to add them to their Medicaid State Plans. Given research conducted by the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) on the feasibility of using Medicaid for supportive services, the Housing as Heath Coalition believes that Pennsylvania is well-positioned to strengthen Medicaid supportive housing services for a wider population, in a way that is cost-effective and prudent.

The Housing as Health Coalition endorses the recommendations made by CSH in the Crosswalk. Pennsylvania should:

  • Define and cover supportive housing services using the new Federal guidelines, strengthening services and allowing providers to bill Medicaid for their services
  • Include individuals with a substance use disorder in coverage for supportive housing services
  • Build capacity in the Medicaid delivery system with managed care entities to support the integration of supportive housing services into the whole-person model of care
  • Call on managed care entities to train service providers on covered benefits for supportive housing services, billing for those benefits, and developing collaborative partnerships
  • Encourage counties to invest any cost savings back in quality supportive housing services and housing system

 

If your organization would like to officially sign onto the campaign please go to http://healthashousing.org

You can also sign our online petition to policymakers urging them to adopt these recommendations ASAP.