Healthcare and the Homeless – how do the two connect?

Recently, everyone has been bustling about the Obama administration’s proposed healthcare reforms, with every major newspaper and news station weighing in on what they perceive to be the benefits and follies of the new plan. This issue is obviously a hot topic to all Americans and, we admit, is far too comprehensive for us to cover in one blog post. We have a vested interest in an often overlooked population, however, and wanted to let you in on a niche part of the conversation: the debate revolving around health care policy and its effects on the homeless.

We aren’t experts in the ways reform could influence our clients’ welfare, so we did a little digging. In doing so, we discovered a wonderful introductory video on the subject from National Alliance to End Homelessness. Granted, the video is very simple, but we appreciate the overview included: a synopsis of two reforms that would positively benefit the homeless. 

One statistic within the video shocked even us: “Homeless people die 20 years earlier than their general population counterparts.” The Alliance says that is shameful, and we wonder if anyone could disagree.

Important points Peggy Bailey makes in this video:

“It is a common misconception that all homeless or low income people are eligible for Medicaid…The Alliance’s first priority is to make sure that all people living below federal poverty level have access to Medicaid and health insurance.

“For health insurance to mean something, it must pay for the right services. That is why our second priority is to make sure that Medicaid insurance pays for comprehensive care services, including mental health and substance use treatment.

“If we have healthcare reform that does these…things, we’ll make significant progress in ending homelessness in America.”

We appreciated the Alliance’s brief breakdown of how healthcare policy can affect the homeless, particularly their insight on how reform may actually lead to a reduction in homelessness (obviously an exciting concept for us). Along with a multitude of Americans, we at the Coalition are anxiously awaiting the results of the reform process, particularly to see if our frequently forgotten population will benefit.