Medicaid Doesn’t Pay For Housing. Here’s What It Can Do To Help Meet Enrollees’ Social Needs

Originally published on Health Affairs Blog.

Access to safe, affordable housing supports people’s physical and mental health, research shows. This connection has led some health care stakeholders to conclude that Medicaid programs or health plans should pay directly for housing. We disagree: Diverting Medicaid funding from health care to housing is the wrong approach to addressing the housing crisis. Medicaid can’t fill the vast unmet need for affordable housing without shortchanging health care. In addition, it lacks the expertise to run housing programs, and tying housing assistance to Medicaid eligibility could jeopardize housing stability for people whose incomes frequently fluctuate above and below Medicaid eligibility levels but are too low to afford the full costs of their housing.