Washington Program Blends Housing and Health Care in Novel Initiative
In Washington state, the profound connection between stable housing and overall health is being recognized and acted upon through the innovative use of Medicaid funds. The state’s Medicaid program, Apple Health, has launched a pioneering initiative known as Apple Health And Homes, positioning itself as a frontrunner in the nation for integrating healthcare funding with housing solutions.
Matt Christie, who oversees the Health Care Authority’s Foundational Community Supports program, highlights the groundbreaking shift in Medicaid’s role. “By leveraging Medicaid to fund support services, we’re essentially including housing support as a component of an individual’s health insurance package,” he states. This strategic move acknowledges the intrinsic role that stable living conditions play in maintaining and improving health outcomes.
The Apple Health and Homes initiative is tailored for individuals eligible for the Foundational Community Supports program. This includes those who are chronically homeless, individuals grappling with behavioral health challenges, or those battling substance abuse disorders. Since its inception in 2018, the program has reached over 35,000 people, offering a testament to the critical need for such services.
Christie elaborates on the myriad ways housing influences health, from the basics of ensuring medications are stored correctly to the ability to keep consistent medical appointments. The absence of a secure place to sleep can have a devastating toll on one’s physical and mental well-being.
Scott Tankersley, a program administrator with Foundational Community Supports, emphasizes that Apple Health and Homes goes beyond merely providing a roof over one’s head. The program adheres to evidence-based practices from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This ensures that individuals are not just housed but are integrated into communities that are best suited to their needs and preferences.
Tankersley points out, “It’s about crafting a journey towards housing stability that respects and aligns with the individual’s choices and aspirations.” The program’s person-centered approach is a cornerstone of its strategy, ensuring that the path to housing stability is both empowering and sustainable for those it serves.