Housing Converge in Groundbreaking Program in WA
Having a place to call home is not just about shelter; it’s closely intertwined with a person’s health and well-being. In Washington state, a groundbreaking initiative known as Apple Health And Homes is leveraging Medicaid dollars to bridge the gap between healthcare and housing, recognizing the critical role housing plays in overall health.
Apple Health, Washington’s Medicaid program, has taken a pioneering step by creating Apple Health And Homes, one of the first initiatives in the nation aimed at providing funding to help specific Medicaid recipients secure stable housing.
Matt Christie, a supervisor with the Health Care Authority’s Foundational Community Supports program, explains that this initiative represents a shift in how housing support services are financed. Traditionally, housing support has not been directly integrated into healthcare services, but Apple Health And Homes is changing that.
“The innovative thing that our program did was bring Medicaid into the space of paying for support services as part of someone’s health insurance,” Christie notes.
Apple Health and Homes primarily targets individuals who qualify for the Foundational Community Supports program. This includes individuals who are chronically homeless, those with behavioral health needs, and individuals struggling with substance abuse disorders. The Foundational Community Supports program has been instrumental in serving over 35,000 people since its inception in 2018.
The connection between housing and health is multi-faceted. For example, individuals with specific medication requirements need a stable place to store their medications safely. Moreover, maintaining medical appointments and adherence to treatment plans becomes challenging when someone lacks stable housing. At its core, the impact of homelessness on physical and mental health over time is profound.
Apple Health And Homes is addressing these challenges head-on by providing crucial support for housing. This initiative acknowledges that housing is not just a social service issue but an integral component of healthcare, enabling individuals to access the stability they need to improve their overall health outcomes.
By taking this innovative approach, Washington state is setting a precedent for other regions, recognizing that addressing housing insecurity is not just a matter of social policy but a vital step toward improving public health and well-being. Apple Health And Homes is not only helping people secure roofs over their heads but is also transforming the way healthcare systems approach housing as a fundamental determinant of health.