Pittsburgh, PA –Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Teresa Miller today joined Medicaid managed care organization UPMC Health Plan and Community Human Services (CHS) to discuss how housing can impact health outcomes and how UPMC Health Plan and CHS are partnering to better serve people experiencing homelessness. The program, which initially supported 25 UPMC Health Plan Medicaid enrollees experiencing homelessness, will expand to broaden its reach.
“Having a secure housing option is critical for a person’s health and development. If someone is going to lead a healthy life, they must live in a safe and healthy environment,” said Miller. “This partnership between UPMC Health Plan and CHS helps some of our most vulnerable Medicaid enrollees experiencing homelessness and connects them to housing and supports them as they adjust to this transition. Data shows that stable housing makes a tangible difference in a person’s health, and I am grateful that UPMC Health Plan is using this experience to broaden the program’s reach.”
The visit is part of DHS’ statewide Medicaid Innovation Tour, which highlights ways Pennsylvania’s Medicaid managed care organizations are helping recipients lead healthier lives by reimagining and expanding service delivery to address the social and environmental factors that impact their health. A person’s housing, food, and transportation access can have long-term impacts on their health. By shifting focus away from care only when a person is sick to care designed to improve long-term health outcomes, managed care organizations are seeing improved patient health and reduced spending on Medicaid enrollees.
The Wolf Administration and Department of Human Services are prioritizing improving the health care system for Pennsylvania residents, providers, and payers. Moving away from care only when a person is sick or injured helps a person manage their health and identify potential issues when they may be easier to treat or manage. This focus on whole-person care strengthens the relationship between patients and providers, increases the value of money spent health care for both patients and payers, and most importantly, sets the patient up for a healthy, successful life.
UPMC Health Plan’s partnership with CHS helps connect Medicaid enrollees experiencing homelessness to long-term housing. The program identified enrollees with at least one year of high health care expenditures who were able to live independently, willing to follow a health plan developed by UPMC Health Plan care managers, and met federal Department of Housing and Urban Development standards for experiencing homelessness. CHS staff assists program participants with the housing search, moving, landlord mediation, and works alongside UPMC Health Plan care managers to engage with participants
After connecting individuals to long-term housing, program participants saw a decrease in unplanned medical costs and an increase in regular primary care physician and specialist visits.
“UPMC Health Plan is pleased to announce our plans to expand the program with the goal of serving significantly more homeless and housing unstable UPMC for You members in Allegheny County over the next few years,” said Diane Holder, president and CEO of UPMC Health Plan. “We have found that when people have a stable place to call ‘home’ and are supported by compassionate individuals who coordinate their care, they are happier and healthier and live more fulfilling lives. UPMC Health Plan is committed to addressing the need for permanent housing with ongoing access to health care for homeless individuals.”
For more information on the Department of Human Services, visit www.dhs.pa.gov.