Jennifer Lopez, Director of Homeless Initiatives for Colorado Governor John W. Hickenlooper, guest blogs in The Pipeline, discussing the State’s partnership with CSH and the new Colorado Medicaid Crosswalk.
The State of Colorado, under the leadership of Gov. John Hickenlooper, is committed to ensuring that every resident has a place to call home. The high cost and lost potential of every individual and family that experiences homelessness is a daily reminder of the need for bold, coordinated, and sustained action from the State and a broad coalition of community partners.
Supportive Housing (affordable housing combined with access to supportive services) offers a proven, cost-effective, and humane disruption to homelessness and the destructive, costly cycle of prison, emergency shelters, clinics, and hospitals that so often accompanies life on the streets for our most vulnerable.
When an individual is housed, they are more likely to be healthy. A Denver study found 50% of formerly homeless tenants in supportive housing had improved health status and 43% had improved mental health.
A Chicago study found a 55% survival rate for people living with AIDS in supportive housing compared with a 35% survival rate for a control group as well as a lower viral loads among the housed group.
Colorado has made great strides to secure the needed capital and operating expenses for development, but paying for services in supportive housing remains a major challenge.
Because Colorado expanded Medicaid, homeless single adults in Colorado are now eligible for health coverage through Medicaid. This designation gives healthcare providers the opportunity to connect this highly vulnerable population with life-saving services and care.
In an effort to increase the availability of services to formerly homeless Coloradans and expand access to supportive housing, , the State partnered with CSH to discuss ways to make intense services like substance use treatment and mental health recovery more available and accessible.
CSH worked with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing over a 10-month period to determine the degree to which the State’s current Medicaid plan included housing-related supports.
The newly released Colorado Medicaid Crosswalk provides the State, managed care entities, and service providers with a valuable tool that will help them access additional resources to support programs that are proven to help those experiencing homelessness attain stability and life-long success.
Colorado’s Medicaid program covers many of the services needed for successful supportive housing programs, this in-depth analysis shows there are opportunities, particularly when caring for individuals living with mental health conditions, for supportive housing providers to secure additional resources and supports from Colorado’s Medicaid program.
The Crosswalk highlights the need for managed care entities, community mental health care providers, and supportive housing providers to work together, in order to fully utilize Medicaid resources to best serve clients living in supportive housing.
The Crosswalk adds to our arsenal of knowledge as we continue to work with our partners across the state to give more homeless individuals and families the opportunity to live healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.