Last week at a symposium in Washington D.C., Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, stated the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation is trying to identify “solutions for the whole person, including addressing housing, nutrition and other social needs.”
This initiative would allow hospitals to pay for housing and healthy food for patients. According to Azar, “we believe we could spend less money on healthcare – and, most important, help Americans live healthier lives – if we did a better job of aligning federal health investments with our investments in non-healthcare needs.”
The idea would be for hospitals to have more flexibility to pay a beneficiary’s rent if their housing situation was in jeopardy, or perhaps provide healthy food for a diabetic. The initiative would be to allow the federal government’s efforts to treat the “whole person.”
Of course, much of the financial burden for this would most likely fall to individual states. This proposal would have a long way to go before we saw any potential movement towards this change.