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Improving health by helping with housing

Medicaid directed to housing help improves health and decrease costs

homeless Seattle

Housing and health are connected. It’s no surprise that being homeless is unhealthy. One way to improve lives and decrease health care costs is to improve people’s health, especially those who rely on expensive options like emergency rooms. State officials have received special permission for pilot program that will direct some Medicaid funds to permanent support housing.

While that may sound like rent assistance, it is housing assistance, helping a homeless person deal with the paperwork, logistics, and negotiations that are part of finding and keeping an apartment. Chronically homeless may not be familiar with applications, signing up for utilities, and other things most people take for granted.

Helping homeless people find and keep a home makes it easier for them to receive health care. As we reported earlier, homelessness means possibly losing whatever a person has left if they have to abandon it to visit a doctor’s office. A door with a lock on it makes the visits easier. Getting out of the weather improves mental and physical health, which reduces costs. And having a fixed address makes it easier for case workers to work with their clients.

Washington State isn’t the first to launch such a program, but it should be the most comprehensive. It is part of the larger program described in the official announcement from the Washington State Health Care Authority;

“The five-year Washington State Medicaid Transformation Project provides up to $1.1 billion of incentives for rewarding high-quality care.“

Reducing homelessness, improving lives, improving communities, and possibly driving down costs is an impressive list of goals, and a necessary one considering our region’s affordability crisis.

For more, check out the KNKX report.