Our team sat down to take the “Harm Reduction is Healthcare: Sustainable Funding for Harm Reduction Programs”. This hour-long course is filled with actionable insights for anyone looking to better understand trends in healthcare financing and the opportunities that lie ahead. If you’re looking for a quick download, National Harm Reduction Coalition (NHRC) has summarized the course in this PDF.
What healthcare financing is: getting paid for services that you offer via direct billing to insurance or through partnerships with healthcare providers
Challenges and limitations of healthcare funding: Harm reduction programs may have not actively pursued healthcare financing in the past due to time and resource constraints, the complexity of healthcare financing processes, and systemic barriers within the healthcare system that may not align with their goals and approaches. These factors have made it difficult for programs to prioritize pursuing healthcare financing.
Why this may be changing: Despite the challenges, there are opportunities for harm reduction programs to engage with healthcare financing. The evolving healthcare landscape, driven by factors like the recognition of systemic racism and health inequities, presents a chance to establish partnerships that focus on culturally and linguistically effective services. By aligning with some fundamental principles of harm reduction, programs can work towards providing inclusive care and meeting the needs of their patients.
It’s not just direct billing: There are various sources of healthcare financing available, including block grants, waivers, pilot funding, and partnerships with federal agencies like HRSA. Funding for substance use programs, for example, has historically come from public health departments, block grants, and HIV-related funding. Understanding the different types of funding available and establishing relationships with relevant agencies and partners is crucial for sustaining healthcare programs.
Geography Matters: Healthcare financing varies at the state and local levels. Factors such as Medicaid expansion, waivers for specific types of care, and the involvement of hospitals and local foundations play a role in financing healthcare initiatives. Building partnerships with healthcare entities, private and public payers, and insurance providers can help navigate the complexities of healthcare financing and align with outcomes-based care approaches.
If you’re thinking about pursuing different sources of funding for your harm reduction program, we recommend checking out the NHRC's learning lab.