CMS approves housing and employment services as part of health transformation

After an extended approval process, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has approved the launch of supportive housing and supported employment services.

These services, collectively called Foundational Community Supports (FCS), are part of the Medicaid Transformation Demonstration. They are designed to help the most vulnerable people enrolled in Washington’s Apple Health (Medicaid) program find and keep stable housing and employment. Services will begin in January, and roll out over the first six months. By mid-year, they should be available in all regions.

Supportive housing services will:

  • Assess the housing needs of Apple Health clients.
  • Identify housing resources.
  • Help develop clients’ independent living skills so they can remain in stable housing.

Supported employment services provide:

  • Employment assessments.
  • Application assistance, community resources and employer outreach.
  • Education, training and coaching to maintain employment.

Marc Provence, director of Medicaid Transformation for the Health Care Authority, explained that the extended approval process was due in part to the groundbreaking nature of the services, which link housing and employment to health.

“Washington is among the first states in the nation to act upon the evidence that social conditions –homelessness, unemployment, hospitalization and incarceration – are tied inextricably to health,” Provence said. “With these programs in place, we can provide important foundations for good health while we improve health care.”

Responding to the news, Chris Imhoff, director of the Division of Behavioral Health at the state Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), said,

“The approval of these benefits helps ensure that people with behavioral health conditions receive the services to help them not only live in their communities but also to be a part of their community. A job, a home and community are essential components to recovery.”

Bea Rector, DSHS director of Home and Community Services Division, noted,

“This opportunity allows for important services that will provide the option of working to those we serve who want to return to work. At the same time, we are expanding the services available to help individuals stay housed and receive services in their setting of choice. These are important services for individuals with disabilities to be fully integrated in our communities.”

Amerigroup Washington is under contract with HCA to oversee the delivery of supportive housing and supported employment services.

In advance of the January launch, Amerigroup has begun contacting and contracting with providers. In this context, providers can come from behavioral health organizations, social services, hospitals and health centers, and community-based organizations. Building and maintaining robust provider networks will be an ongoing process throughout the state’s Medicaid Transformation Demonstration and beyond.