The administration decided on homelessness as a health issue

The administration decided on homelessness as a health issue

Photo: Richard Newstead/Getty Images

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have selected eight states, along with Washington, DC, to participate in a new federal initiative known as the Housing Partnership Accelerator and Services, which aims to help strengthen partnerships in the housing, disability, aging and health sectors; access available federal programs and resources; and maximize federal flexibilities to help keep people healthy.

The accelerator aims to help states unlock resources to reduce homelessness by addressing health-related social needs, such as housing-related services.

The program provides technical assistance to states implementing guidelines recently issued by HHS regarding clinically appropriate and evidence-based services that may be covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For example, states can support access to health care through Medicaid section 1115 demonstrations that provide services such as housing transition services and case management that helps people avoid lease violations.

In addition, states can provide services that connect people to HUD housing programs by covering short-term housing costs, such as security deposits and rental application fees, for specific transitions.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT

The accelerator was announced by HHS and HUD in November 2023 as a competitive technical assistance opportunity for states. States with approved Medicaid section 1115 or section 1915(i) state plan amendment demonstrations that cover housing-related support services for people experiencing homelessness (when clinically appropriate) were eligible to apply.

As part of their Accelerator application, states were asked to form collaborative teams composed of partners from their health, housing, and aging and disability sectors, and describe the status of implementation of housing-related services and supports. covered by Medicaid, their goals under the Accelerator, and areas in which technical assistance was needed.

HHS and HUD said they received an “overwhelming” response, with applications from 15 eligible states and Washington, D.C. A rigorous review and evaluation process, including interviews with state teams, led to the selection of Arizona, California, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, Maryland , Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Washington.

Over the next 12 months, HUD and HHS will provide these eight states (and DC) with “intensive” federal technical assistance and peer-to-peer state exchange opportunities to support their implementation of indicated housing-related services and supports clinically. under their Medicaid programs for people with complex health needs who experience homelessness.

This includes people with disabilities, the elderly, people with mental health disorders, people with substance use disorders, and people with other chronic medical conditions.

By receiving this federal technical assistance, HHS said these states can improve coordination and delivery of services such as navigation services, ongoing individualized case management, one-time transition assistance and home modifications that can help people obtain and maintain stable housing.

THE BIGGEST TREND

Last week, HUD announced $3.16 billion to fund 7,000 housing and service projects for people experiencing homelessness – the largest expansion yet of annual federal funding provided through HUD’s continuing care program.

In November 2023, HHS, through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published guidance and a framework that clarifies the flexibilities available to states under Medicaid section 1115 demonstrations or 1915(i) state plan amendments to cover services to assist in meeting the health of eligible enrollees. related social needs such as housing and food, and to receive federal matching funds for their Medicaid expenditures for those services when clinically indicated.

The accelerator will provide tailored support to selected countries that are early adopters of these flexibilities.

States not selected to participate in the Accelerator may apply to participate in a related technical assistance opportunity, the National Academy’s Health and Housing Institute for State Health Policy, funded by HHS through the Resources and Services Administration Health. Now in its third year, HHI also supports states pursuing interagency and federal-state-local strategies to increase access to safe, affordable housing and services and supports for people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. Applications for HHI are due on Wednesday.

Jeff Lagasse is editor of Healthcare Finance News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare Finance News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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