Link Housing to Health Care
By Bill Kelly
Who are unconventional stakeholders who can help rally support for housing?
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Health care payers, whether in the private sector or in government, are key potential allies for housing. The Affordable Care Act calls for solutions that achieve the “triple aim”–producing better health outcomes, improving the experience for citizens, and reducing the per capita cost of health care. The mandates and incentives in the ACA push in these directions.
As research results come in, it is becoming ever clearer that housing with services can help achieve the triple aim, partly by focusing on the social determinants of health and partnering with licensed clinical providers to meet clinical needs. This can be true for many populations, including the formerly homeless, frail seniors aging in the community, persons with serious disabilities, and families with children. The strategies that are effective will vary among these populations. For frail seniors, LeadingAge, Enterprise Community Partners, and SAHF are leading a learning collaborative among a dozen nonprofit housing providers and their health care partners to develop models for spreading the housing with services idea.
To enlist insurance companies, managed care organizations, Medicaid directors and others, though, those of us with housing backgrounds will need to build stronger, longer bridges. That must begin by our taking the trouble to understand the landscape in which health care payers operate and the standards by which they are judged and paid rather than simply wish for funds to be transferred to the housing sector. A recent analysis by Health Management Associates (see www.sahfnet.org) begins to provide the intellectual underpinning. It remains to refine the analysis, continue to document results, and launch a more concerted outreach and communications effort.
Bill Kelly is president and co-founder of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF).
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