New Biden Administration “Playbook” Permits Medicaid To Cover Food, Rent, and Utilities

(NationalUSNews.com) — The Biden administration recently updated the Medicaid guidelines, which now permit states to use their budgets to pay for food, rent, and other housing utilities. According to the new Medicaid guidelines, states can use more than three percent of their Medicaid budget on experimental subsidies if the state adds funding and evaluates the outcomes of the experimental subsidies. The only requirement for the services paid for by the state is that the state base its decision on evidence that the experimental subsidy “makes a difference.”

The new guidelines originate from the White House’s Social Determinants of Health playbook. The playbook lists housing and food security, access to education, and a healthy environment as requirements to prevent housing inequality. While some states are hesitant to use the new Medicaid guidelines, other states have announced their plans to implement the Biden administration’s new rules. The first two states to use the new Medicaid funding guidelines are Arizona and Oregon, both of which aim to drastically reduce homelessness through the new funding rules.

According to some reports, the primary goal of the new Medicaid rules is to fight homelessness, which is a growing issue nationwide. Arizona and Oregon plan to increase funding for various rental assistance programs, which could cover up to six months of living expenses for the homeless and people suffering from mental illnesses. While the Biden administration didn’t explicitly state that the new Medicaid guidelines targeted the homeless and mentally ill, many political experts claim they’re the intended demographics for the new program.

Arizona reportedly plans to devote more than $550 million of its Medicaid budget to the rental assistance program. Arizona also intends to provide housing vouchers to cover most of an eligible person’s rent. The housing vouchers could cover up to 100% of a person’s rent, depending on their income. Oregon is also planning to use its Medicaid budget on housing assistance and provide benefits to citizens with certain health conditions.

Among the demographics featured in Oregon’s $1 billion housing assistance program are the homeless, people suffering from behavioral health issues, people afflicted with long-term or permanent health problems, and pregnant people. According to various reports, Oregon could also use the Medicaid expansion for people at risk of losing their homes. The Medicaid expansion comes as the White House promotes the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. The council recently declared housing a right, a sentiment echoed by the new Medicaid guidelines.

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