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Analysis

CMS OKs Florida Medicaid Behavioral Health Housing Pilot

By John Commins  
   March 28, 2019

The pilot program will provide temporary housing, tenant support and other services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of their disability. 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has approved a Florida section 1115 pilot program that provides behavioral health services and housing to adult Medicaid beneficiaries with serious mental illness, substance abuse disorders, or both.

"We are committed to supporting states that seek to test policies that are likely to improvebeneficiary health because we believe that promoting independence and improving health  outcomes is in the best interests of the beneficiary and advances the fundamental objectives of the Medicaid program," Chris Traylor, CMS's deputy administrator and director, said in a letter this week to Beth Kidder, Florida's deputy director of Medicaid.

"In its consideration of Florida's MMA (Managed Medical Assistance amendment), CMS examined whether the demonstration was likely to assist in improving health outcomes, whether it would address health determinants that influence health outcomes, and whether it would incentivize beneficiaries to engage in their own healthcare and achieve better health outcomes," Traylor said.

"CMS has determined the Florida MMA Demonstration is likely to promote Medicaid objectives, and the waiver and expenditure authorities sought are necessary and appropriate to carry out the demonstration," he said.

The Behavioral Health and Supportive Housing Assistance Pilot will provide transitional housing, tenancy support services, mobile crisis management and self- and peer-support, along with home and community-based services to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of their disability.

The waiver request was sent to CMS after Florida lawmakers in 2016 directed the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration to seek federal approval to pay for "flexible services" such as temporary housing for people with severe mental illness or substance abuse disorders.

In exchange for the waiver approval, Florida must follow home and community-based services requirements for person-centered planning, conflict of interest, and home and community-based setting requirements.

The state must also develop performance measures within 90 days following the approval of the waiver to address the requirements of the pre-tenancy services, tenancy sustaining services, mobile crisis management and self-help/peer support, CMS said. 

"By paying these costs, the Medicaid program helps vulnerable populations afford the medical care and services they need to attain and maintain health and well-being," Traylor said.

“CMS has determined the Florida MMA Demonstration is likely to promote Medicaid objectives.”

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The waiver request was sent to CMS after Florida lawmakers in 2016 directed the state's Agency for Healthcare Administration to seek federal approval to pay for 'flexible services' such as temporary housing.

In exchange for the waiver approval, Florida must follow home- and community-based services requirements for person-centered planning, conflict of interest, and home and community-based setting requirements.


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