The National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices has worked closely over the past few years with the Camden Coalition to develop a Complex Care Policy Academy to provide resources for states that want to improve their health care systems for people with complex health and social needs. The second Complex Care Policy Academy met days before the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs’ inaugural conference, and representatives from NGA and participating state policy leaders were able to attend Putting Care at the Center and lead a dialogue between state policymakers and health care providers on sustaining effective interventions for complex care populations.

“There is a passionate enthusiasm to get it right,” says Sandra Wilkniss, Program Director of the Center for Best Practices’ health division. The Complex Care Policy Academy gives states comprehensive technical assistance to “shape care delivery and payment strategies to meet the Triple Aim” and to explore states’ role in reforming our health care system.

Michigan is one of the nine states participating in the Policy Academy, and has decided to take a Housing First approach to their complex care pilot project. “It’s common sense— if somebody’s living in homelessness, they’re not going to be taking care of their health,” said Kelly Rose of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. “They’re in a constant state of anxiety.”

Lynda Zeller, Director of Behavioral Health and Disabilities at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said that the tools are out there to secure Medicaid funding for supportive housing, but no one is using them. The goal of Michigan’s pilot project is to measure the effect of using Medicaid for housing, and to help demystify the process for other states.

“Complex care is a cornerstone of the National Governors Association’s health care reform work,” says Mark Humowiecki, Director of National Initiatives at the Camden Coalition. “We’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration and ensuring that they are a regular participant at our National Center conferences. As we shift to a new administration, the role of states is likely to grow in importance, and the National Governors Association will be well-positioned to help states develop health care strategies that center complex needs.”