Arizona approved to advance Medicare solutions by addressing housing insecurity

Oct. 17, 2022

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), approved Medicaid section 1115 demonstration initiatives in Arizona that will help the state take aim at health-related social needs. Like recently approved demonstrations in Oregon and Massachusetts, Arizona’s demonstration will test innovative interventions that target critical drivers of health outcomes, including housing insecurity.

“Everyone deserves the chance to receive the care they need to live safe and healthy lives,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We are proud to work with Arizona in this groundbreaking effort. We will continue doing all we can to strengthen Medicaid and urge states to follow Arizona’s lead.”

“Arizona joins a growing cadre of states that recognize a simple truth: health care can – and should – mean care for the whole person,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “We applaud Arizona for using every tool available to protect, expand, and test high-quality, comprehensive, whole-person models of care. We look forward to more states following your example.”

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and other Administration efforts, more Americans than ever before have health care coverage. This approval will build on these efforts and support President Biden’s executive orders directing federal agencies to take action to expand affordable, quality health coverage, including by strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.

CMS has authorized the state to advance solutions to a key health-related social need: housing insecurity. Through the “Housing and Health Opportunities” program, Arizona will provide:

·       Services to help more people become and remain stably housed;

·        Support for community and transitional housing for those with unique clinical needs or transitioning out of institutional care; and

·        Rent and temporary housing for up to six months for individuals transitioning out of places such as congregate settings, homeless shelters, the child welfare system, and a range of other options to transition more people out of homelessness.

The Arizona Medicaid program will also offer case management, outreach, and education to advance those services. CMS is approving health-related social infrastructure funding to support the state’s efforts. CMS will require the state to monitor the demonstration systematically and conduct a rigorous independent evaluation to determine outcomes and impacts.

Lack of stable housing can impede the ability to enroll in health care coverage and access needed health care. This can create physical, social, or emotional distress that fuels the cycle of health inequity. The housing support services CMS has advanced through recent 1115 demonstration approvals will test innovative interventions that could help to stabilize the housing situations of eligible Medicaid enrollees, improve their use of needed health care, and increase the likelihood they will keep receiving and benefitting from services to which they are entitled.

HHS release