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Illinois Medicaid pursues housing as health care

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 9:48 a.m. CST

CHICAGO — Gov. Pat Quinn's administration wants to expand supportive housing in Illinois by using federal and state Medicaid dollars — money normally reserved for health care.

Quinn's administration is making a bold pitch for more federal funds by promising savings in health care costs down the road. Federal rules don't allow states to use federal Medicaid money for housing. But states can seek permission to try new approaches through what's called a demonstration waiver.

Supportive housing provides poor and homeless people with subsidized rent and help from social workers. Some studies have shown it can lower health care costs by reducing emergency room visits and hospital stays.

Illinois plans to submit its proposal to federal Medicaid officials Feb. 7. A legislative hearing on the proposal is being held Wednesday in Chicago.

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