Group Calls For Medicaid Expansion To Cover Housing Support Services

Jul 26, 2016

The Housing as Health Campaign is calling for Pennsylvania to expand Medicaid to include housing support services. Members say those services can improve health and prevent homelessness.
Credit ~My aim is true~ / flickr

A coalition of housing and health advocacy groups from across Pennsylvania want Medicaid expanded to include supportive housing services. 

“Even with bricks and mortar dollars and housing subsidies, it’s the supportive services dollars that we are often really struggling with how to find and how to sustain,” said Monica McCurdy of Project HOME in Philadelphia. “We see Medicaid as the missing piece in this equation to solve homelessness.”

Last year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued guidelines that detail how states can offer wrap-around support services to Medicaid recipients with a primary diagnoses of a substance use disorder and who are receiving housing support.  

The Housing as Health Campaign contends many Medicaid enrollees with substance abuse problems need the additional support to stay in their homes, but without a reliable funding stream, those services often evaporate and the clients eventually wind up on the streets. 

The Open Door in Pittsburgh provides supportive housing services.

“Being able to bill Medicaid for supporting housing services would truly create long-term sustainability for our program and most importantly for the people we serve,” Open Door Executive Director Christina Farmartino said. 

The Corporation for Supportive Housing combed through all the data trends and found some gaps in coverage.

“The gaps in the populations served where primarily related to people with a primary diagnoses substance abuse, opioid addiction and other substance use disorders, who have that as their primary diagnoses and who may not have a diagnosed mental illness,” Cheryl Winter, Corporation for Supportive Housing Senior Program Manager said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services did not comment on the coalition’s request.