posted by National Institute for Medical Respite Care
on September 10, 2021
Individuals experiencing homelessness are at higher risk for complex health conditions and often have nowhere to heal safely when they are discharged from a hospital impatient admission. Care providers and hospital discharge planners struggle to find safe and appropriate (i.e., non-shelter) referrals for these patients to rest and recuperate. This represents a serious, persistent, and expensive challenge for ill patients at risk of homelessness who need access to care and supportive follow-up services. Without a safe place to recover following hospital discharge, patients experiencing homelessness have a high likelihood of using hospitals at higher rates and for longer periods of time.
Many public and private health organizations are looking to address this problem through strategies that reduce inpatient hospital stays and readmissions, while also decreasing homelessness. Medical respite programs offer a solution by providing temporary care and support strategies for individuals who are too sick to be in a shelter or on the street, but not sick enough to remain hospitalized. This can deliver significant health and wellbeing improvements for those served and reduce the overall costs of care.
This white paper describes trends and opportunities for funding medical respite programs and services and offers methods to expand and scale programs through innovative financing mechanisms and increased flexibility in payment policy. The paper outlines various approaches to finance medical respite programs, offering providers, state and federal Medicaid leadership, policymakers, and managed care organizations (MCOs) specific partnership options to ensure continuity and quality of care for patients with long-term health and housing needs.