BeHealthy Partnership Chooses MHA for Housing Initiative

SPRINGFIELD — The BeHealthy Partnership Accountable Care Organization, comprised of Baystate Health, Caring Health Center and Health New England, has chosen MHA and its Home Healthy program to help address mental health and homelessness for patients covered by MassHealth who are utilizing Caring Health Center or one of the four Baystate Health Centers.

MHA was chosen for its extensive experience and local resources to provide safe and stable housing for individuals who face challenges with their mental health.

“A substantial proportion of high utilizers of emergency health services in the MassHealth population suffers from homelessness or severe housing insecurity,” according to Kimberley Lee, vice president of Resource Development and Branding for MHA. “As a result, on discharge these patients often have no safe place to go where their physical and mental health needs can be met. Too often they end up back in the emergency department. Social determinants of health including homelessness and housing insecurity frequently drive this scenario. Compounding the issue, high utilizers of emergency health services often have mental health as a primary diagnosis or co-morbidity, adding to the challenges they face.”

Through MHA’s Home Healthy program, accountable care organizations, such as the BeHealthy Partnership, and their members benefit by embedding MHA’s institutional knowledge in order to “decode a complex housing/homeless system to reduce utilization, decrease costs, preserve the fidelity of care and improve health care outcomes,” she went on.

Preeti Nakrani, MPH, ACO program manager at Baystate Health, said her organization was intrigued by MHA’s combined emphasis on addressing issues related to mental health and homelessness.
“We are excited to start this partnership with MHA as we have long known the negative impacts homelessness have on patient health outcomes,” she said. “Having the opportunity to intersect social services and healthcare through this flexible services program will hopefully demonstrate that stabilizing an individual’s housing does in fact lead to opportunities for better overall care as well as long-term well-being.”

Under the MassHealth Flexible Services Program (FSP), MassHealth may pay for health-related nutrition, housing supports and navigation of related supports for certain members enrolled in an Accountable Care Organization (ACO). Through FSP, ACOs are directed to pilot evidence-based approaches that address a member’s health-related social needs with the goal of improving health outcomes and reducing the total cost of health care for the member. Flexible Services does not replace, substitute, or duplicate existing benefits or state and federal social service programs, but rather supplements those benefits where appropriate. Flexible Services is not an entitlement program or a covered service, and not all members will receive these specific supports.