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Community Development , Homelessness , Supportive Housing

Connecticut is Taking Care of its Million Dollar Murrays

17 December 2013

John Merz, is the co-executive director of AIDS Connecticut.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in 2006 about Million Dollar Murray, a Nevada homeless man who had cost the state over $1 million in social service expenses over the course of his 10 years of being homeless. After all the expenses, Murray remained and died homeless.

What is Connecticut doing about its Million Dollar Murrays?

The Connecticut Integrated Healthcare and Housing Neighborhoods is a pilot project that identifies high-cost Medicaid utilizers of crisis healthcare facilities like emergency rooms who are also homeless. Once identified and located, these individuals are housed and connected with trained case workers known as Patient Navigators who work with the individuals to connect them to appropriate healthcare services like primary physicians, mental health providers and substance treatment programs located at Federally Qualified Health Centers.

The intended outcome is to improve the health of the individual while lessening the unnecessary and ineffective financial burden on the healthcare system. It’s a win-win situation. To date 35 individuals have been successfully housed in four regions of Connecticut. Our goal is to house 160 individuals. Each of these individuals has incurred a minimum of $40,000 of Medicaid costs within a 12-month period. Some individuals have been several times more costly. This program will reduce unnecessary costs to the system while improving the health of the individuals in the program.

When successful, we will be proud to state that Connecticut has identified, reached out to, and successfully met the housing and medical needs of its Million Dollar Murrays so that we will not repeat the tragic story of the real Nevada Murray. This Connecticut program, a joint project between the Partnership for Strong Communities and AIDS CT, is funded by the Corporation for Supportive Housing with federal funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service.

John Merz, is the co-executive director of AIDS Connecticut.

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