Today’s guest post is written by Alliance senior policy analyst and resident healthcare expert Lisa Stand.
Kaiser Health News recently reported: “The administration of [Kansas] Gov. Sam Brownback continues to solicit ideas from the public on how to reform the Medicaid program. … The Medicaid Reform Working Group, as the task force is called, is looking for ways to cut $200 million or more in state Medicaid spending in time for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, 2012.”
My first reaction was: Oh no, FY2013, already?! And Medicaid is on the chopping block in states, again, so soon?
But my second thought was more action-oriented. So states are looking for ways to save health care dollars … do they know that permanent supportive housing (PSH) does just that? Do state leaders understand that expensive hospital costs are reduced when the most vulnerable homeless people are housed and given access to the services they need – like medical treatment, behavioral health recovery, and long-term community supports?
This seems well enough understood in communities working to end homelessness – thanks to advocates and researchers who have done the studies and shared the results. And of course everyone wants to see scarce dollars used in the most effective ways when people need help living and thriving independently. But state Medicaid leaders might not be aware how much effective PSH is in their fiscal interest, even though Medicaid does not pay for housing.
Here is an opportunity, in one state, where homelessness advocates can reach out to a key decision-maker with important information about health care. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment even has a website with a simple form, ready to take consumer suggestions. And, no doubt, with budgeting for Fiscal Year 2013 coming around already, such opportunities in exist in other states.
You can check out the best way to contact your state healthcare leaders by looking on a few state government websites – for instance, the sites for the Governor, Medicaid director, and the chief budget officer.
The Alliance has a one-page briefing paper that lines up the advocacy with the facts about PSH and healthcare costs – written for a health policy audience. This can help you craft your message, and you can attach it to correspondence if you think it would help your state leaders make decisions about services in PSH. Keep your state legislators in the loop, too. They will appreciate the information when they have to vote on tough budget proposals.