New Medicaid Housing Assistance Pilot Program to Support Individuals with Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders

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Melanie Brown-Woofter, President FBHA; AHCA Secretary Mary Mayhew

The Florida Behavioral Health Association (FBHA) was pleased to recently stand with Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary (AHCA) Mary Mayhew as she announced the new Medicaid Housing Assistance Pilot Program. This new program received federal approval earlier this year and will begin operations in December. The pilot program will launch in Medicaid Regions 5 and 7 in the counties of Pinellas, Pasco, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, and Brevard.

“Our community mental health and substance use disorder providers in the area are looking forward to working with AHCA and the participating health plans to provide housing assistance services to individuals with serious mental illness (SMI),” said FBHA President and CEO Melanie Brown-Woofter. “Individuals with SMI often find themselves homeless and without adequate resources to find even a temporary residence. This new housing assistance program will allow people enrolled in the program to have a  better opportunity to find a place to call home.”

At Lectern: Karen Koch, Florida Supportive Housing Coalition speaking at AHCA Housing Assistance Pilot Program Press Conference 11/21/19

One of the goals of the program is to help people find permanent housing. AHCA will measure the percentage of participants who achieve long-term housing as one of the performance metrics. Additional performance metrics include tracking the reduction of the days of homelessness, the number of enrolled people receiving medication-assisted treatment, and the reduction in the number of emergency room visits and inpatient hospital stays among participants.

AHCA Secretary Mayhew said, “In partnership with community providers, our Agency, through selected managed care plans, will address a major social determinant of health for individuals with mental illness or substance use disorder by focusing on efforts to support stable housing to improve their health outcomes and reduce preventable hospitalizations.”

Boley Centers is a community treatment provider with services in multiple locations including Pinellas County. Boley Centers currently offers several housing services and they are thrilled to have additional housing support assistance and funding through the Medicaid pilot program.

“This will assist us in helping people throughout Pinellas County,” said Boley Center CEO Gary MacMath. “We provide different types of housing based on individual needs. This is a great lifeline for people recovering from mental illnesses or who have re-occurring substance abuse problems.”

Aspire Health Partners in Orlando, Florida has behavioral health services across Medicaid Region 7. They assist all age groups from children and adolescents to adults and seniors.

“We are delighted that this program will enhance resources so that individuals can access much needed resources to address their mental illness and substance use disorder needs,” said Aspire Health Partners CEO Babette Hankey. “Focusing on removing barriers, particularly housing, will enable individuals to focus on their treatment needs, leading to more successful outcomes.”

The health plans participating in the Medicaid Housing Assistance Pilot Program include Aetna, Simply Healthcare, Staywell, and Magellan Complete Care.