Lowering Medicaid Utilization and Spending Among Homeless Adults in New Jersey: Findings from a Milbank Quarterly Article

Medicaid Mental Health Population Health Social Determinants of Health

As New Jersey expanded its Medicaid program, the number of homeless Medicaid enrollees grew substantially. This in turn created a pressing need for policymakers to implement strategies to improve care while reducing avoidable hospital costs for homeless Medicaid beneficiaries.

New Jersey and other states have attempted to tackle this issue by expanding upon Medicaid-funded tenancy support services (TSS), which includes move-in assistance and landlord dispute resources. A recent Milbank Quarterly study by Joel Cantor of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy and colleagues demonstrates that homeless Medicaid enrollees tend to have higher levels of health care needs when compared to their nonhomeless counterparts. Homeless beneficiaries also have higher levels of emergency department utilization and inpatient admissions, as well as higher spending.

Over 78% of chronically homeless individuals utilizing TSS reported one or fewer emergency room visits in 2016, illustrating that helping homeless individuals achieve stable housing was an indirect, yet successful way to cut down on avoidable health care costs. Click through the slideshow below to learn more about homeless Medicaid enrollees and potential housing solutions.