A new demonstration pilot is coming to Central Florida to help support chronically homeless individuals. The national Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) submitted approval on March 26th to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) for a Medicaid 1115 behavioral health services amendment. The amendment authorizes Florida to implement a pilot program to provide additional behavioral health services and supportive housing assistance services to adults experiencing chronic homelessness. One of the regions authorized for this pilot includes Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Brevard counties.
“This pilot has the potential to save nearly $750,000 in jurisdictional resources while improving health and housing outcomes for our most vulnerable homeless neighbors,” remarked Shelley Lauten, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness (CFCH). The process to bring a pilot of this type to Central Florida began nearly 3 years ago when then-Senate President Andy Gardiner championed the effort with lawmakers. The waiver request sat dormant until the summer of 2018 when CFCH made implementation of this initiative one of its policy priorities.
“While it’s been a long time in coming, I celebrate this opportunity to provide additional funding for the services and housing needed to support our most vulnerable neighbors”, said Senator Gardiner who currently serves as Senior VP of External Affairs and Community Relations for Orlando Health and as a CFCH Board member.
“When we learned about this opportunity to expand the resources for supportive services for our chronically homeless population, we knew this needed to become a priority,” added Lauten, “and we wouldn’t have been able to reignite this effort without the support of Board members like Senator Gardiner or our partners at the Orlando Economic Partnership.” The Partnership’s Advocacy and Public Policy Council agreed to include the Medicaid 1115 waiver as part of the advocacy priorities for its February trip to Washington, D.C. This inclusion allowed CFCH to gain support from Central Florida’s federal delegation to help expedite the process to approval. A special thanks to Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and Representative Stephanie Murphy for working on Central Florida’s behalf.
AHCA will create an implementation plan with enrollment expected to begin in late summer. The Commission will continue to work with agency officials to ensure successful implementation.