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HUD No. 14-070
Brian Sullivan
(202) 708-0685
http://www.hud.gov/news/index.cfm
FOR RELEASE
Thursday
June 12, 2014

HUD AND HHS ANNOUNCE SUCCESSFUL TEST TO MATCH HOUSING AND HEALTH
DATA TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE NEEDS OF HUD-ASSISTED HOUSEHOLDS

Effort intended to more effectively serve elderly and non-elderly persons with disabilities

WASHINGTON – In a ground-breaking cross-agency collaboration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) produced the first-ever dataset of HUD-assisted households that includes Medicare and Medicaid claims data.  Despite the potential usefulness of combining administrative data across agencies, such projects are rare and very difficult to bring to fruition.  HUD and HHS looked specifically at data on people aged 65 and older. Although the data do not describe individuals, they can be used to study trends.

HUD and HHS today are releasing a report on this exploratory project, Picture of Housing and Health: Medicare and Medicaid Use Among Older Adults in HUD-Assisted Housing. The study was conducted by the Lewin Group for HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. 

“More than 1.6 million low-income senior citizens live in subsidized housing,” said Katherine M. O’Regan, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research. “By combining two important data sources, we can improve our response to their needs and potentially reduce public costs in the process.”

In the 12 jurisdictions studied, up to 93 percent of HUD-assisted households appeared in both datasets.  Approximately 68 percent of HUD-assisted Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid and about 90 percent of Medicare beneficiaries had Part D (drug) coverage, with most receiving subsidies through the Low Income Subsidy Program.  In addition, the report finds that HUD-assisted older adult households have more chronic conditions and higher Medicare spending than unassisted older adult households in their areas. 

These findings underscore the critical role that HUD plays in providing housing to some of the most vulnerable Americans.  While these data analyses demonstrate feasibility, they are exploratory and they are not based on a representative sample. 

The cross-agency data matching project is motivated by the urgent need for evidence to guide policy development for the growing population of low-income senior households. By 2030, one in every five Americans will be over age 65, and today’s seniors have lower incomes than their predecessors. These households face the dual challenges of finding affordable housing and access to services that support them to live independently. 

Supporting independent living not only enhances well-being, it may also decrease health care costs by safeguarding the health and safety of independently living seniors and preventing unnecessary transfers to  nursing homes, trips to hospital emergency departments and frequent hospitalizations.  The data matching reported on in Picture of Housing and Health is just one of several projects jointly undertaken by HUD and HHS in this area; related projects include designing a demonstration to investigate the role of services supporting older adults living in developments supported by HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program.

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