June 7, 2012
The state of New York's ambitious plan to redesign Medicaid -- launched in January 2011 -- will save taxpayers more than $34 billion over the next five years, to be divided equally between the State and the federal government. On Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo sought a federal waiver to reinvest up to $10 billion of the $17 billion in federal savings generated by these reforms.
If people living with HIV/AIDS don't have access to adequate housing, they are far more likely to end up in a hospital or long-term-care setting, which will greatly increase program costs. Homelessness and unstable housing are strongly linked to greater HIV risk, inadequate HIV health care, poor health outcomes and early death. Housing Works applauds Cuomo's stance.
"We see in our health centers, day to day, that housing is one of the most, if not the most, common need within our chronically ill population," said Michael Clarke, Vice President for Housing Works' Community Follow-Up and Harm Reduction Programs. Due to a limited range of housing options, the organization's ability to help meet this need is becoming increasingly difficult, he added. "Our experience shows us that stable housing is a key indicator of our ability to engage and maintain an individual in health care," Clarke said. "So any reinvestment of Medicaid savings into housing options for the chronically ill would certainly result in further cost savings down the line."
"New York's Medicaid Redesign offers an important opportunity to improve health outcomes for homeless and unstably housed New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS," wrote Charles King, our President and CEO, in a briefing paper submitted to a Medicaid Redesign working group that looked into the issue of affordable housing for high needs/high cost Medicaid patients. We agree with the state's finding that supportive housing does more than address chronic homelessness -- it lowers overall Medicaid expenses.
Among other highlights, the briefing paper noted:
Housing Works urged the Medicaid Redesign team to address the unmet housing needs among people living with HIV/AIDS. More information on the specific proposals can be found by visiting www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/redesign/docs/king.pdf.