Affordable Healthcare Will Both Address Chronic Homelessness and Provide Prevention
A significant number of homeless individuals stand to benefit from the decision:
- The decision provides an opportunity for the United States’ 107,000 chronically homeless people – most of whom, if not all, are uninsured;
- Beginning in 2014, everyone with incomes under $15,000 in a state that chooses to opt for a federal subsidy will be eligible for Medicaid; and
- That could mean health care for up to 2 million people with mental illness and up to 2 million people with substance abuse.
Those who work with the chronically homeless know only all to well that most chronically homeless often have a combination of mental illness, substance abuse, and physical ailments such as heart disease, HIV/AIDS, and diabetes. And for the first time, this population may have access to primary care through heath care center infused with new funding. Peoples lives will change and the public will see less of a drain on the emergency care system. This new access to regular, affordable health care and all that comes with it – including prescription medications, lab tests, and mental health services – will also provide homelessness prevention.
“Time will tell how much the expanded funding promised by the American Care Act (ACA) will do to patch holes in the tattered health care net or whether the additional resources will make the health care system any easier to navigate. However, the expansion of Medicaid could mean that millions without essential health care services, many with serious and disabling illnesses, will gain ready access to care for the first time. What’s needed next is a comprehensive effort by all stakeholders to enroll homeless people in the most appropriate health care programs.”
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