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ISSUES

Poor quality housing and housing instability are hidden drivers of poor health and high healthcare costs.

Conversely, quality homes can reduce the presence of chronic diseases in children and adults and lead to healthier communities. More and more studies are supporting these observations, and health care professionals are taking notice. With mandates and incentives in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and new rules for Medicaid funding, health providers are looking to partner with housing and homeless providers to improve the lives of the families and individuals they work with.
The Housing Alliance has added health and housing to our organizational strategic direction and recently released a survey to help us tailor our efforts (see survey results here).  The following is an introduction to this important collaboration.

Medicaid

The Affordable Care Act incentivizes states to expand Medicaid, subsequently expanding coverage to include a variety of individuals previously ineligible (see details here), as well as increasing potential funding for effective programs and services that were previously ineligible for reimbursement. This is where the affordable housing and homeless providers have the opportunity to increase the available supportive services they can provide to individuals and families in their communities.
In order to encourage legislation or administrative restructuring to meet that need, an extensive research and analysis of the current Pennsylvania Medicaid system is required. Currently, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding Project HOME, the Housing Alliance, PA Health Law Project, and Pennsylvania Health Access Network (PHAN) to complete a “Medicaid Crosswalk” in Pennsylvania.
The Crosswalk is an analysis of which services in supportive housing align with and are covered by the State Medicaid Plan and explores future Medicaid coverage for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness with chronic behavioral health conditions. CSH’s consulting team is conducting this research with a focus on reducing health care costs and improving health outcomes in low-income communities by advocating for the use of state Medicaid dollars to fund services in permanent supportive housing for Pennsylvania’s vulnerable populations.
[1] Pennsylvania is certainly not the first to look at Medicaid as a resource for community development and supportive services. Several other states provide potential frameworks and lessons learned that can be applied right here in Pennsylvania (see what other states are doing here).

Supportive Housing

The Housing Alliance has added health and housing to our organizational strategic direction and recently released a survey to help us tailor our efforts (see survey results here).  The following is an introduction to this important collaboration.

Community-Based Preventative Health Care

There are currently emerging funding streams that allow healthcare and public health professionals to build the capacity to partner with community development and housing professionals in local areas who have long understood that, without housing, health care remains disease management.
In fact, health and housing sectors target similar low-income areas. Studies show that the percentage of people who report experiencing poor or fair health increase as the income and education level decrease.[6]

The Housing Alliance is currently compiling a master list of coalitions and agencies working to merge these once siloed sectors all across the state.

If you know of organizations working on community/ housing development as a way of improving health outcomes through collaboration with healthcare entities, contact info@housingalliancepa.org with the name of the organization, location, and  contact information.

Next Steps

Moving forward, the Housing Alliance will build collectively on our knowledge of policy options and state movement around health, housing and Medicaid policies that impact the lives of the most vulnerable Pennsylvanians. The Housing Alliance has adopted the health and housing movement as a part of our strategic direction and commitment to education and advocating with our members and community partners.
[1] Cheryl Winter, Senior Program Manager, CSH
[5] HHS.gov- Building Healthier Communities by Investing in Prevention

 

News

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