With the waiver, Illinois would join New York and counties in Minnesota and California in recent efforts to add housing to the list of healthcare services offered to chronically ill Medicaid patients.
Proponents of the efforts say the potential health benefits of stable housing could reduce avoidable emergency room visits and hospital stays.
The evidence of savings from these initiatives is limited. This year's expansion of Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, though, has increased pressure on state officials and providers to find ways to curb healthcare spending.
Under the waiver, Illinois would offer incentive payments to managed-care plans for enrollees with mental illness or substance-abuse disorders who successfully find temporary or permanent stable housing, consultants for the state told Illinois lawmakers.
The housing provision would allow Medicaid health plans to tailor services to what patients need to maintain their health, said Steven Glass, executive director for managed care for the Cook County Health and Hospitals System in Chicago.
The system's Medicaid managed-care plan won federal approval to begin early enrollment for adults who gained access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Enrollment began last year and the 72,000 enrollees include more homeless and chronically ill adults than before.
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