- Press Release Distribution

Housing subsidies reduce health care costs for vulnerable veterans

( Ensuring that veterans have stable housing not only reduces homelessness but also slashes the cost of providing them with publicly funded health care, according to a national study led by University of Utah Health scientists. The researchers found that veterans who received temporary financial assistance (TFA) from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to acquire or retain housing had fewer hospital visits and an average reduction in health care costs of $2,800 over a two-year period than veterans who did not receive this benefit.

The researchers say this model could help non-profit organizations and other federal, state, and local governments better serve homeless Americans who are not veterans.

"Getting veterans experiencing homelessness into stable housing is desirable for a whole host of social, health, economic, and moral reasons," says Richard E. Nelson, Ph.D., the study's lead author and a research associate professor of internal medicine at U of U Health. "In this case, the overarching finding of our research is that providing veterans with temporary financial assistance helps them get into stable housing and reduces health care costs--particularly inpatient health care costs. This should be seen as a 'win-win' for the average person or taxpayer."

The study appears in the May issue of Health Affairs.

On any given night, about 40,000 American veterans are homeless, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Thousands more are at risk of losing their homes every day, Nelson says.

Homelessness is associated with myriad health care problems, including HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, skin infections, tuberculosis and pneumonia, and substance abuse. As a result, VA's specialized homelessness programs provide health care to almost 150,000 homeless veterans annually.

In previous research, Nelson and his colleagues found that homeless veterans or those at risk of becoming homeless who received TFA provided by VA's Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program were more likely to have stable housing 90 days after enrolling in the program than those who didn't receive the program's short-term subsidies.

Building on that finding, the scientists sought to determine if TFA also had an impact on utilization of VA health care facilities by these veterans. They identified 29,184 veterans who had received TFA through the SSFA program in 49 states as well as 11,229 who participated in other aspects of SSFA but did not receive TFA.

The researchers analyzed data on these veterans from two years prior to SSVF enrollment to two years after in quarterly increments. Overall, health care costs increased sharply in the eight quarters prior to SSVF enrollment. However, health care costs decreased an average of $352 per quarter for SSVF veterans receiving TFA following enrollment compared to those who didn't receive this benefit. This decrease was consistent regardless of the amount of TFA received, which on average was about $6,000 over the course of SSVF participation, which averaged about three months.

The magnitude of the decrease was larger for those who were homeless at enrollment compared to those who were on the brink of it but remained in their homes because of their TFA allocation. This difference was due, in part, to the fact that homeless veterans are more likely to be hospitalized.

In some instances, the decrease in health care costs offset the total TFA amount VA allotted to these veterans, potentially reducing the overall outlay for their care and well-being. The researchers say this finding could have implications for efforts to alleviate homelessness and its accompanying health care issues among other populations.

"Historically, housing and health care have been considered separate things," Nelson says. "By showing that they are linked--that improving somebody's housing situation might also improve their health status--this finding could have a big impact on how we approach these challenges among veterans and other citizens in the future."

Among the study's limitations, health care costs for veterans who use non-VA providers were not included in the analysis. Veterans are also more likely than the general population to be male and have a higher risk of substance abuse and mental illness, two conditions commonly associated with homelessness.

Moving forward, the researchers plan to examine whether other SSVF services such as legal assistance, credit counseling, and obtaining VA benefits can improve housing and health care outcomes for veterans who are homeless or at risk of it. In addition, since reduced health care spending doesn't necessarily improve health, they will explore more direct measures, such as mortality.

"There has been a huge shift over the past 10 to 15 years in homeless assistance policies toward interventions like the one we studied," says Thomas H. Byrne, Ph.D., the study's senior author, an investigator at VA Bedford Healthcare System in Bedford, Massachusetts, and an assistant professor of Social Work at Boston University. "Yet, there is limited evidence to date about their effectiveness. Our findings help provide some much-needed evidence about the impact of such interventions."


In addition to Dr. Nelson, University of Utah Health researchers Ying Suo, James Cook, Warren Pettey, and Tom Greene contributed to this study. Other contributors included scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Norte Dame, University of California Los Angeles, Boston University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio.

The study, "Temporary Financial Assistance Decreased Health Care Costs For Veterans Experiencing Housing Instability," appears in Health Affairs. It was supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Services Research and Development Service.


33% of neighborhoods in largest US cities were 'pharmacy deserts'

Black and Latino neighborhoods in the 30 most populous U.S. cities had fewer pharmacies than white or diverse neighborhoods in 2007-2015, USC research shows, suggesting that 'pharmacy deserts'- like so-called food deserts-may be an overlooked contributor to persistent racial and ethnic health disparities. Pharmacies are increasingly vital points of care for essential health services. In addition to filling prescriptions to treat chronic health conditions, pharmacists dispense emergency doses of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, contraceptives to prevent unplanned pregnancy and COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. But ...

New research shows benefits of deworming expectant mothers to their infants

More than 25% of the world's population (greater than 1.5 billion people) face the burden of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections, a species of intestinal parasite whose eggs develop in the soil before finding a new host. The main cause of this high infection rate is lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities (toilets) and the consequent contamination of the environment with human feaces. While universal access to adequate sanitation is one of the sustainable development goals, parasite burdens are still causing harm. Fortunately, deworming medicines are highly effective and safe. Researchers from Syracuse University, the World Health Organization, ...

Speeding new treatments

A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, mass vaccinations have begun to raise the tantalizing prospect of herd immunity that eventually curtails or halts the spread of SARS-CoV-2. But what if herd immunity is never fully achieved - or if the mutating virus gives rise to hyper-virulent variants that diminish the benefits of vaccination? Those questions underscore the need for effective treatments for people who continue to fall ill with the coronavirus. While a few existing drugs show some benefit, there's a pressing need to find new therapeutics. Led by The University of New Mexico's Tudor Oprea, MD, PhD, scientists ...

Mutant corn gene boosts sugar in seeds, leaves, may lead to breeding better crop

Mutant corn gene boosts sugar in seeds, leaves, may lead to breeding better crop
An abnormal build up of carbohydrates -- sugars and starches -- in the kernels and leaves of a mutant line of corn can be traced to one misregulated gene, and that discovery offers clues about how the plant deals with stress. That is the conclusion of Penn State researchers whose previous study discovered the Maize ufo1 gene responsible for creating the mutant corn line. They now are assessing its effects and potential for inclusion in breeding new lines of corn better able to thrive in a warming world. The finding of higher sugar levels in plant tissues in their latest study is just ...

Using social values for profit cheapens them, a new study cautions

Using social values for profit cheapens them, a new study cautions
May 3, 2021 Using social values for profit cheapens them, a new study cautions. Toronto - Businesses sometimes align themselves with important values such as a clean environment, feminism, or racial justice, thinking it's a win-win: the value gets boosted along with the company's bottom line. But be careful, warns new research from the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. Using these values primarily for self-interested purposes such as profit or reputation can ultimately undermine their special status and erode people's commitment to them. "It sets a different norm for appropriate use of the value," says research author Rachel Ruttan, an assistant professor of organizational behaviour and human resources at the Rotman School, who ...

Bai lab develops stable, efficient, anode-free sodium battery

When it comes to batteries, lithium-ion are the best we have as far as energy density and convenience. For now. The Washington University in St. Louis lab of Peng Bai, assistant professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, has developed a stable sodium ion battery that is highly efficient, will be less expensive to make and is significantly smaller than a traditional lithium ion battery due to the elimination of a once-necessary feature. "We've found that the minimal is maximum," ...

Local impacts from fracking the Eagle Ford

Hydraulic fracturing to extract trapped fossil fuels can trigger earthquakes. Most are so small or far from homes and infrastructure that they may go unnoticed; others can rattle windows, sway light fixtures and jolt people from sleep; some have damaged buildings. Stanford University geophysicists have simulated and mapped the risk of noticeable shaking and possible building damage from earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing at all potential fracking sites across the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas, which has hosted some of the largest fracking-triggered earthquakes in the United States. Published ...

Intranasal influenza vaccine enhances immune response and offers broad protection, researchers find

Intranasal influenza vaccine enhances immune response and offers broad protection, researchers find
ATLANTA--An influenza vaccine that is made of nanoparticles and administered through the nose enhances the body's immune response to influenza virus infection and offers broad protection against different viral strains, according to researchers in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University. Recurring seasonal flu epidemics and potential pandemics are among the most severe threats to public health. Current seasonal influenza vaccines induce strain-specific immunity and are less effective against mismatched strains. Broadly protective influenza vaccines are urgently needed. Intranasal vaccines are a promising strategy for combatting ...

New understanding of ovarian follicle development may lead to novel reproductive therapies

BOSTON -- For the first time, researchers have shown how Mullerian inhibiting substance (MIS), also known as anti-Mullerian hormone, a key reproductive hormone, suppresses follicle development and prevents ovulation in females. "Understanding the mechanism of follicle development by MIS opens the door to creating novel approaches to contraception, preserving the eggs of young girls undergoing chemotherapy, enhancing the success of fertility treatment, and potentially delaying menopause," says David Pépin, PhD, an associate molecular biologist in the Department of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and senior author ...

Northern Red Sea corals pass heat stress test with flying colors

Northern Red Sea corals pass heat stress test with flying colors
Even under the most optimistic scenarios, most of the coral reef ecosystems on our planet - whether in Australia, the Maldives or the Caribbean - will have disappeared or be in very bad shape by the end of this century. That's because global warming is pushing ocean temperatures above the limit that single-cell algae, which are corals' main allies, can withstand. These algae live inside coral tissue for protection and, in exchange, provide corals with essential nutrients produced through photosynthesis. Because the algae contain a variety of pigments and therefore give coral reefs their famous colors, if they are lost the corals turn white, which is known as coral bleaching. But in spite of the real threat caused by global warming, corals in the ...


Blackologists and the Promise of Inclusive Sustainability

Robot-assisted surgery: Putting the reality in virtual reality

Novel interactions between proteins that help in recovering from brain injury

Common antibiotic found useful in accelerating recovery in tuberculosis patients

The 'Mozart effect' shown to reduce epileptic brain activity, new research reveals

Study examines heart and kidney outcomes of adults with nephrotic syndrome

Study examines symptoms before and after kidney transplantation

New research adds a wrinkle to our understanding of the origins of matter in the Milky Way

Stronger together: how protein filaments interact

New study uncovers details behind the body's response to stress

Carcinogen-exposed cells provide clues in fighting treatment-resistant cancers

Memory helps us evaluate situations on the fly, not just recall the past

Animals' ability to adapt their habitats key to survival amid climate change

Undiagnosed and untreated disease identified in rural South Africa

Study reveals new therapeutic target for C. difficile infection

New artificial heart shows promising results in 'auto-mode' -- initial clinical experience reported in ASAIO Journal

Picky neurons

Does cannabis affect brain development in young people with ADHD? Too soon to tell, reports Harvard Review of Psychiatry

Researchers find optimal way to pay off student loans

Use rewards effectively to boost creativity

Researchers find losartan is not effective in reducing hospitalization from mild COVID-19

Scientists detect signatures of life remotely

Team describes science-based hiccups intervention

Princeton-led team discovers unexpected quantum behavior in kagome lattice

Overcoming a newly recognized form of resistance to modern prostate cancer drugs

Will reduction in tau protein protect against Parkinson's and Lewy body dementias?

The end of Darwin's nightmare at Lake Victoria?

Study: Men doing more family caregiving could lower their risk of suicide

Researchers dig deeper into how cells transport their waste for recycling

Organic farming could feed Europe by 2050

[] Housing subsidies reduce health care costs for vulnerable veterans