AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and MaineHousing announce a partnership to improve housing opportunities for MaineCare (Medicaid) members, particularly those facing chronic homelessness and struggling with mental health and substance use disorders.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has selected Maine to participate in a federal program that encourages such partnerships to enhance community living options for Medicaid beneficiaries. While MaineCare does not fund room and board in the community, MaineCare can align services to help individuals locate and maintain housing by addressing health and daily living needs.

Through the program, CMS will provide Maine with technical assistance, with a focus on addressing homelessness and advancing community support for members with chronic physical or complex health needs, serious and persistent mental illness and substance use disorder. This assistance will allow Maine DHHS and MaineHousing to improve tracking and sharing of data, which will inform potential initiatives to support this population. It also will help both agencies engage key stakeholders in implementing and sustaining housing opportunities and related services over the long term.

“This federal assistance will bolster our efforts to ensure that vulnerable MaineCare members have roofs over their heads and critical services to help them get and stay well,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We are delighted to pursue this work in partnership with MaineHousing.”

“We’re excited about this partnership because it will drive important changes and collaboration to best serve Mainers who are homeless,” said MaineHousing Director Dan Brennan. “We’ll be able to provide a much-needed holistic approach to support people in finding and staying in a safe home.”

Currently, an estimated 2,454 MaineCare members (1,830 households) are homeless and/or living in homeless shelters.

Under MaineCare expansion, coverage is now available to many chronically homeless individuals who did not previously qualify for the program. With that coverage comes greater opportunities to assist this population, not only through access to medical care, behavioral health care and substance use disorder treatment, but also by better coordinating such services and providing them in new settings. Research consistently shows that housing is one of the social and economic factors critical to improving health.

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