New Pathways to Pay for and Support Street Medicine

Blog
Logan Kelly, Center for Health Care Strategies
A Black man wearing a mask leans out of the tent he is staying in to talk to a health care worker, a white man who is also wearing a mask and is crouched down with a clipboard.

Street medicine providers are growing in number across the United States. These providers take to the streets to deliver care and services to meet the unique needs of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness wherever they may live. While the evidence base for street medicine is growing, until recently most providers could not bill for these services, which can be intensive to deliver.

Effective October 1, 2023, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services now allows providers across the country to bill for street medicine services with a place of service code. Before this change, only a small number of state Medicaid programs reimbursed for health care services delivered “on-the-street,” including outdoors and in community settings.

While there are currently more than 150 street medicine programs across the country, this reimbursement policy change will help provide more sustainable funding to spur the growth of these programs. Many people served by street medicine programs are either enrolled in or eligible for Medicaid. States may explore Medicaid reimbursement for a range of provider types involved in street medicine, including federally qualified health centers, psychiatrists, peer support service providers, and dentists, among others.

This blog post is part of a Better Care Playbook evidence roundup series that links critical evidence and implementation resources with emerging state and federal policies to help inform and accelerate implementation strategies to improve health and health-related services for people with complex health and social needs.

Resources to Design or Enhance Street Medicine Programs

As opportunities to sustainably support street medicine expand, it is valuable to understand the emerging evidence and tools from the field for these programs. Stakeholders seeking to learn more about the evidence base and implementation tools for street medicine programs can explore the following Playbook resource summaries:

Share Your Street Medicine Resources and Tools

Do you have a resource or emerging best practices related to street medicine? Please share your experience with the Better Care Playbook. We are interested in growing our library of evidence and implementation best practices to help those in the field strengthen and build successful street medicine programs in communities across the nation.