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What We're Reading in Health and Housing, August 31

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 and Jake Varn

Home and Community-based Services: Maximizing the Impact of Federal Spending
By Secretary Henry Cisneros and Senator Mel Martinez, BPC

“For many seniors, access to affordable HCBS can be the difference between being able to remain at home and in their community or placement in an assisted-living facility or other institutional setting.

“With competing demands on a limited pool of federal resources, it will be more critical than ever to ensure that federal funding for HCBS is deployed as productively as possible. The bottom line is we need to get the most out of every federal HCBS dollar.” Read the post.

Veterans Health Administration: Audit of The Home Telehealth Program
By the VA Office of Inspector General, Office of Audits and Evaluations

“The goal of the Home Telehealth Program is to improve veterans’ access to care while reducing patient treatment costs. The program does this by remotely monitoring patients’ vital signs in the home and intervening early when adverse trends are detected. We determined how effectively the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is managing its Home Telehealth Program.

“VHA missed opportunities to expand enrollment for Non-Institutional Care (NIC) patients in the Home Telehealth Program. NIC telehealth patients showed the best outcomes, in terms of reduced inpatient admissions and bed days of care (BDOC). However, in fiscal year (FY) 2012, the number of NIC patients-served grew by only about 13 percent. In FY 2013, the number of NIC patients-served declined by 4 percent, while the number of Chronic Care Management (CCM) and Health Promotion/Disease Prevention (HPDP) patients-served grew 51 and 37 percent, respectively.” Read the report.

CSH Webinar: Supportive Housing for Frequent Users of Public Systems
By the Corporation for Supportive Housing

“CSH’s Frequent Users Systems Engagement model, or FUSE, is a nationally replicated program that uses housing with wrap around support services to stabilize “frequent users” of jails and other crisis services and thereby reduce their involvement with public systems. More than just another supportive housing initiative, the FUSE methodology developed by CSH demonstrates how jurisdictions can work across systems that serve those in a “revolving door” between jail, detox, emergency rooms, and homelessness, thereby reducing the cost of frequent users to the community as a whole. Webinar attendees will learn how to implement a FUSE initiative using a systemic approach, including how to use data to target deeply for maximum budgetary impact, assembling a cross-system stakeholder group, and engaging quality housing providers to provide the services that stabilize frequent users. The webinar will include speakers from Mecklenburg County’s new MeckFUSE initiative as well as the State of Connecticut’s long-running FUSE program.” Watch the webinar.

Ambitious health experiment rolls out to 1,400 Portland residents
By Elizabeth Hayes, Portland Business Journal

“For the past year, an ambitious experiment has unfolded that could improve the quality of life and health of 1,400 low-income people living in downtown Portland.

“The Housing with Services pilot project encompasses 11 federally subsidized independent housing properties for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities, some run by Portland’s housing agency.

“The idea is to bring in ‘health navigators’ to help these residents meet their needs before they end up in the emergency rooms.” Read the article.

Why Are There So Few Age-Friendly Cities?
By Richard Eisenberg, Forbes

“I recently participated in the Age Boom Academy program, Global Aging: Danger Ahead? run by Columbia University’s Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center. While there, I heard a lot about New York City’s impressive efforts to be an ‘age-friendly’ city.

“That got me wondering: Why are a few communities, like New York and Portland, Ore., working to become more age-friendly for their residents but so many others aren’t? Is it due to political leadership and canniness (or a lack of it)? Do the age of the residents, the workforce and the local customers have an effect? Does it come down to whether there’s money in a city’s budget?” Read the article.

Housing Tax and Transfer Programs Decrease Inequality
By Gregory Acs and Paul Johnson, Urban Institute

“Housing policy can influence income inequality in many ways. Voucher programs that keep people stably housed, for example, can help workers hold down steady jobs, thereby reducing inequality. Zoning laws can either contribute to or reduce economic isolation and segregation, thus increasing or reducing inequality. Tax and transfer programs tied to housing can create work incentives for some people and disincentives for others—ultimately influencing the distribution of income. At their most basic level, however, housing tax and transfer programs change how disposable income is distributed across households.

“Setting aside any effects on households’ work and savings behaviors, housing subsidies to low-income families reduce income inequality while the mortgage interest and real estate tax deductions increase it. On net, the distribution of post-tax, post-transfer income is slightly more equal than it would be in the absence of these three programs.” Read the report.

As Minnesota ages, more services aim to keep seniors at home
By Bill Salisbury, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

“The number of Minnesotans age 65 or older is expected to double to 1.4 million from 2010 to 2035, according to the Minnesota State Demographic Center. By then, more than one in five Minnesotans will be a senior, including all the baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1965).”

“[Jean] Wood and other specialists on aging issues contend that with some relatively modest changes in services and housing options, most older adults can stay in their homes and out of nursing facilities for months and even years.

“That would provide huge cost savings for families — and taxpayers. The average cost of nursing home care in Minnesota is $180 a day. By comparison, Wilder’s fee is $79 per day for adult day care, and assisted-living facilities, which house about 70,000 older Minnesotans, cost $115 a day on average.” Read the article.

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