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Health--it's what we all have in common: whether we're trying to maintain our health through good habits or improve our failing health. "Bridges to Health" is 90.5 WESA's health care reporting initiative examining everything from unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act to transparency in health care costs; from a lack of access to quality care for minority members of our society to confronting the opioid crisis in our region. It's about our individual health and the well-being of our community.Health care coverage on 90.5 WESA is made possible in part by a grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

Stable Housing Leads To Stable Health, Pittsburgh-Based Partnership Expands To Achieve Both

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Two apartments on Pittsburgh's South Side.

A program that works to improve health outcomes by providing stable housing is expanding from Allegheny County to other parts of Pennsylvania.

“Cultivating Health for Success” is a partnership between UPMC Health Plan and the Pittsburgh-based nonprofit Community Human Services that uses funding from both Medicaid and the U.S. Department of Housing and Human Development. It currently assists about 25 clients, but the goal is to grow that to some 250.

Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Teresa Miller was at a Monday announcement about the expansion. She said it makes sense that housing instability and health outcomes are linked.

“When your first priority is to find a place to stay,” said Miller, “you might not have the opportunity to see a doctor to address a health concern, or get preventive screenings, or even a basic checkup.”

Once the program is up and running, UPMC estimates that it will net approximately $500-1,000 in savings annually, per patient. That's because more people will be able to access preventive health care and therefore avoid costly emergencies.

"Medical care in general is very fragmented ... people look at a specific need that you have and they don't look at you necessarily holistically," said Diane Holder, CEO of UPMC Health Plan. "We have seen ample evidence that it's cost effective and scaling it is a great opportunity." 

UPMC hasn't identified where in state this program might spread to next, though Erie, Altoona and York were mentioned as possibilities. The expansion is slated to begin in January. 

90.5 WESA receives funding from UPMC.