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What We're Reading in Health and Housing, July 30

Welcome to What We’re Reading in Health and Housing. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) launched a Health and Housing Task Force earlier this year. We are sharing recent publications, speeches and testimony we consider relevant to our work. The views expressed in these pieces do not necessarily represent the views of the task force, its co-chairs, members, advisors or BPC.

Compiled by Nikki Rudnick, Katie Golden and Jake Varn

BPC Releases Bold Recommendations to Advance Medical Innovation, Help Cure Life-Threatening Diseases and Improve U.S. Competitiveness
By the Bipartisan Policy Center

“Today there are 10,000 known diseases in the United States, but only 500 have established treatments. Life-threatening diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, and many others lack effective treatments or cures. The urgent need to find cures is impeded by the process of bringing promising drugs and devices to market. A new report by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) recommends a series of policy actions that Congress can take to help reduce the time and cost of developing and delivering safe and effective medical products to patients. Such actions could considerably increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies in the global marketplace.

“The report, Advancing Medical Innovation for a Healthier America, was developed over the past six months by BPC with guidance from co-chairs former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. and former Congressman Bart Gordon, along with an expert advisory committee. Its recommendations focus on improving the medical product development process to more rapidly and cost-effectively bring safe and effective cures to patients, increasing regulatory clarity, strengthening the FDA’s ability to carry out its mission, and enhancing investment in medical products to address unmet public health needs.” Read the report. Read the press release.

New Frontier for Successful Aging: Financial Gerontology in the Spotlight at White House Conference on Aging
By Paul Irving, The Huffington Post

“At last week’s 2015 White House Conference on Aging, President Obama spoke to us about opportunity for all Americans, saying that individuals should have a shot to achieve their dreams “at any age.” An evolving force to achieve that goal is financial gerontology, focusing on the financial health of older adults. Coupled with increasing commitment by the financial services industry to better understand and address the changing economic circumstances that come with longer lives, the emergence of financial gerontology is good news for an aging population.

“Around the U.S. and the world, there’s growing awareness about the abilities of older adults. Intergenerational workforces capitalize on talents across the age spectrum. Traditional retirement is being re-imagined as older adults turn away from age-segregation, decline, and mass leisure to continue their careers, launch start-ups, pursue new education, and contribute to their communities through purposeful work, volunteerism, and civic engagement. A longevity economy is developing as markets recognize the demand for products and services for the growing aging demographic.” Read the blog.

Reconnecting Health and Housing: Philanthropy’s New Opportunity
By David Fukuzawa and Fred Karnas, Environmental Justice

“The connection between health and housing was widely understood by nineteenth century social reformers and philanthropists and was the dominant framework for low-income housing until the early twentieth century. The Affordable Care Act has not only set in motion reform in the nation’s health care system, but also opens up new opportunities for re-connecting the housing and health sectors. While housing affordability will remain the central challenge for low- and middle-income people, the strong evidence of how housing quality and affordability impacts health calls for a new framework that envisions housing as a platform for improving quality of life. This platform can be conceived as a multi-layered: as service delivery portal, as target for prevention, and as anchor for healthy neighborhoods. These layers are associated with different at-risk populations and different strategies for financing and policy action. Philanthropy can play a key role in re-connecting the sectors through its capacity to build the evidence base, change the discourse about housing, foster policy change, and promote innovation.” Read the report.

A rundown of just how badly the Fair Housing Act has failed
By Janell Ross, The Washington Post

“Thursday evening, after a long day talking about the Obama administration’s plans to get serious about enforcing the nearly 50-year-old Fair Housing Act, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro spoke with “PBS News Hour” host Gwen Ifill. Castro acknowledged that the project would be a “long haul” and will require much more ‘enforcement.’”

“And for the Fair Housing Act — which aims to combat discrimination in housing — its limited-if-not-failed legacy suggests that enforcement will indeed be critical. Because up to this point, that’s been the missing piece.” Read the article.

Seattle unveils new affordable housing recommendations
By Natalie Brand and Chris Daniels, NBC KING 5 News

“‘To be innovative, you have to take risks,’ said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray Monday as he unveiled a comprehensive proposal to create more affordable housing in the city.

“He released the Seattle Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA) committee’s study and suggestions for creating more housing. The months-long study and report comes with 65 suggestions which, if implemented, would change the nature of one the fastest growing cities in the country.” Read the article.

Housing Is A Prescription For Better Health
By Kathy Moses and Rachel Davis, Health Affairs

“Effectively managing a chronic health condition involves a myriad of tasks for anyone, ranging from scheduling and getting to frequent doctor appointments to regularly taking and refilling numerous medications and eating a healthy diet. Being homeless makes these basic tasks even more overwhelming, particularly if combined with additional chronic health and/or behavioral health conditions, which so many homeless individuals have.

“Compared to individuals who are stably housed, people who are homeless are more likely to visit the emergency room, have a longer stay if admitted to the hospital, and be readmitted within 30 days. “Housing first” proponents suggest that in order for homeless individuals to effectively manage their health and mental health conditions, they must first be housed. More and more evidence shows that housing homeless individuals leads to reductions in health care utilization and costs.” Read the article.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren Seeks Federal Report on Assisted Living Oversight
By Tim Mullaney, Senior Housing News

“The ongoing debate around how much governmental oversight of assisted living is appropriate and necessary may soon have new fodder. A bipartisan group of four U.S. Senators, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), is pushing for a review of how state and federal authorities oversee assisted living facilities that care for residents on Medicaid.

“Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government, and while the program writ-large is not designed to be a major assisted living payer, some AL residents are covered. This is through waivers—such as Medicaid home- and community-based waivers, and comprehensive demonstration waivers—as well as through state plans, the letter notes.” Read the article.

How coordinated care gives patients the freedom to stay at home
By David Pelcyger, PBS

“As America’s population ages, more families will be faced with rising health care needs. As we reported in November, nearly 79 percent of adults who need long-term care live at home or in community settings, not in an institution. And in January, Medicare started paying primary care doctors a monthly fee to better coordinate care for the most vulnerable seniors — those with multiple chronic illnesses — even if they don’t have a face-to-face exam. The goal is to help patients stay healthier between doctor visits, and avoid pricey hospitals and nursing homes.

“So how does coordinated caregiving work? Meet three older Americans with chronic illnesses who are benefitting from coordinated caregivers in their homes.” Read the article.

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