Funding Homeless Services With Medicaid Dollars: Examples From Florida and Michigan

by Erin McDonnell, Implementation Consultant, Foothold Technology

As part of changes introduced by the Affordable Care Act, Congress examined how to address homelessness using Medicaid service dollars in a more effective manner.  As a result, a new funding stream became available to support those experiencing homelessness. Medicaid looked to fund services in conjunction with HUD-funded Permanent Supportive Housing Projects, which focus on housing chronically homeless individuals. This initiative began in six states and has since gained traction with some initial success.

As support for this model grows, so does the interest of AWARDS users who wish to utilize service documentation within AWARDS and the AWARDS BillingBuilder functionality to access Medicaid service dollars. For example, Foothold Technology customer Broward Partnership for the Homeless, located in Fort Lauderdale, FL, provides a wide array of services to support those experiencing homelessness and to help their clients work towards secure permanent affordable housing. Their Behavioral Health and Case Management programs connect those with an identified mental illness and those struggling with substance abuse, with the services necessary to find housing and to be successful once housed. Through service planning, progress notes, and a variety of assessments built in FormBuilder, AWARDS provides Broward with the necessary tools to support clients and meet its billing documentation needs. In the future, Broward aims to utilize the AWARDS BillingBuilder functionality to even further streamline its documentation needs.

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Avalon Housing recently completed its implementation of AWARDS. “Our implementation went great. We’ve replaced our time-consuming, internal system with AWARDS and look forward to saving hundreds of hours of work for our entire services department,” said Brett Jones, Avalon’s Evaluation and Compliance Manager. Avalon owns 282 rental units across 20 properties. Within these properties and in a few instances outside of agency housing, Avalon provides billable Case Management services to its tenants funded through its county’s Community Mental Health Office.  Avalon’s use of AWARDS functionality like plans and reviews, progress notes, client identifiers, miscellaneous entitlements, and several FormBuilder forms, has enabled the agency to gather the service documentation it needs to manage a complex mix of HUD grants, community grants, and billable services.

Both Broward Partnership for the Homeless and Avalon Housing are looking towards the future of Medicaid billable services within their Permanent Supportive Housing projects as part of this newer Medicaid initiative. As these agencies begin to explore the funding possibilities, they will work in conjunction with their Client Services Representative at Foothold Technology to ensure staff are able to capture the necessary documentation in AWARDS, ensuring billing processes are as seamless as possible. This will allow the agencies to keep the focus of their work on housing those experiencing homelessness and working towards ending homelessness within their communities.