WASHINGTON – Recent changes to Medicaid and implementation of the Affordable Care Act mean more support for the social and preventive health needs of low-income individuals. A new report released today by NHC’s Center for Housing Policy, Affordable Housing’s Place in Medicaid Reform: Opportunities Created by the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Reform, examines the ways health care changes created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and earlier Medicaid reforms have created the potential for affordable housing providers to collaborate with health care providers, insurers and other institutions to support the wellbeing of low-income and vulnerable individuals and families.
The ACA offers states voluntary expansion of Medicaid eligibility requirements in exchange for more federal funding, opening the program up to many low-income adults who were previously ineligible. Twenty-four states have adopted these new eligibility guidelines and several more have requested waivers to expand their Medicaid eligibility guidelines.
The ACA also authorizes states to use new kinds of Medicaid payment and health care delivery systems in order to deliver high quality care at lower costs. Many of these changes offer states greater flexibility and create financial incentives for health care organizations to deliver high-quality care by focusing on social factors that impact the health of low-income individuals, such as the lack of affordable and safe housing. New health care entities such as accountable care organizations and health homes are health care provider networks that break down traditional health care silos and include social services in their treatment plans for patients. Further, these health care reforms create opportunities for health care providers to collaborate with affordable housing providers to address the complex health needs of low-income individuals through focus on their social needs. Housing providers can play a significant role in informing Medicaid beneficiaries of the services and resources that are available as well as providing health education and wellness services.
“The new options for Medicaid payments and health care delivery systems encourages health care organizations to address the social needs of patients in order to better support their health,” said Janet Viveiros, a senior research associate and author of the report. “The incentives built into these systems promote collaboration between health care practitioners and affordable housing and other social service providers to better serve low-income individuals and families.”
The report also identifies promising programs and developments in different parts of the country, one such being the Connecticut Integrated Healthcare & Housing Neighborhoods, a pilot collaboration in place to identify and enroll at-risk individuals in a Connecticut Health Home and connect them to supportive housing with state-funded rental vouchers and health home health care services. Health Homes, a new Medicaid state plan option, coordinate and integrate individuals’ health care and referrals into social services and specifically serves people with chronic conditions.
The role of affordable housing providers
Medicaid reform and the ACA has created new avenues for affordable housing providers, healthy housing organizations and advocates to pursue collaborations with health organizations. When affordable housing providers have a demonstrated ability to support the health of residents, health care provider networks, like accountable care organizations and managed care organizations, may provide funding to housing providers to offer non-medical services like health and wellness education as well as work with them to address the housing related needs of vulnerable individuals and families.
The ACA clarifies the requirements of non-profit community hospitals to demonstrate their benefit to their community by completed community health needs assessments and developing strategies to address common health needs with community stakeholders. This provides opportunities to affordable housing organizations to encourage community hospitals to invest in or advocate for local funds for affordable housing. The St. Joseph Health System in Orange County, California has worked with local affordable housing organizations to not only invest in local affordable housing developments, but participate in the local affordable housing coalition to add its voice to the call for more affordable housing in the community.
“Affordable housing providers and advocates can collaborate with their local non-profit hospitals to educate policy makers on the need for more affordable housing investment to not only address the housing needs of the community, but also its health needs,” Viveiros said.
The innovative housing and health partnerships in Connecticut, California and other states are examples of how to use housing to improve the health of individuals, families and communities. Affordable housing providers approach health care organizations in their community to seize these opportunities for collaboration and better serve the social and health needs of low-income individuals and families.
Read the full report here.
About the National Housing Conference
The National Housing Conference represents a diverse membership of housing stakeholders including tenant advocates, mortgage bankers, nonprofit and for-profit home builders, property managers, policy practitioners, Realtors®, equity investors, and more, all of whom share a commitment to safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America. We are the nation’s oldest housing advocacy organization, dedicated to the affordable housing mission since our founding in 1931. We are a nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit that brings together our broad-based membership to advocate on housing issues. Learn more at nhc.org.
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