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Additional services considered to support medical recovery for homeless Minnesotans

The day-to-day requirements of meeting one’s basic needs are complicated, stressful, and exhausting enough for homeless Minnesotans. Meeting those needs when recovering from a surgery or hospital stay is even more difficult.

“Imagine that you didn’t have a home to return to,” Kelly Morrison (DFL-Deephaven) told the House Human Services Finance and Policy Committee Tuesday. “Staying on the streets or in an overnight shelter will make recovery nearly impossible.”

She sponsors HF256, which would direct the Department of Human Services to seek federal funding to develop a “recuperative health home model” that would provide wraparound services to homeless people recovering from medical events.

It was approved and referred to the House Health Finance and Policy Committee.

There is no Senate companion.

Hospitals can be “overwhelmed” with the need to develop safe discharge plans for homeless patients who are well enough that they no longer require hospitalization, but still need good nutrition and rest to recover, said Dr. Danielle Robertshaw, medical director at Hennepin County Health Care for the Homeless.

Recuperative health homes “close gaps” through round-the-clock access to a bed, three meals a day, and support services, she said.  

“(It’s) letting people heal and recuperate in a healthy, safe and clean environment … rather than cycling in and out of the emergency department,” Morrison said.

Across the country, the model is used to integrate a range of services for high-need, high-cost Medicaid populations. In addition to improving the quality of health care, the model can also reduce costs by ensuring better outcomes and preventing the need for additional high-cost services, she said.

But many of the services are not currently reimbursable, Robertshaw said.

The model would be developed by working with a range of stakeholders and building on existing resources.

“At the end of the day, this is really about doing the right thing for humanity,” said Rep. Kristin Bahner (DFL-Maple Grove).

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