Ending Homelessness Today — Health Care Reform
Ending Chronic Homelessness: Medicaid Will Make a Difference
September 16, 2011
This post is part of a series of blogs from the Alliance staff. Each day a different expert is taking the reins of our blog, Facebook and twitter accounts to share with you their perspectives and knowledge on ending homelessness. For more information, see this introductory post. Today’s post comes from Lisa Stand, Senior Health Policy Analyst.
HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan recently called Medicaid “our greatest chance to make the biggest difference for the most people to move the needle on all of homelessness.”
Why? Perhaps because Medicaid is getting ready to sign up millions more low-income people. Because of the Affordable Care Act, all uninsured citizens with incomes under $15,000 per year will be eligible for Medicaid starting in 2014. That means vulnerable people who have been experiencing homelessness without access to health care will have one less barrier to housing stability.
And what a big barrier lack of coverage can be! Studies show that chronically homeless people tend to be physically burdened by conditions like cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and untreated injuries. These illnesses often compound mental illness and substance use disorders, which are themselves made worse by homelessness.
Access to health care – including behavioral health care – can make an enormous difference for someone living on the street, or even a person barely hanging on with health-related burdens in subsidized or market housing. The most basic medical benefits pay for physicians, prescription drugs, lab tests, mental health services, and much more. Uninsured poor people who now line up for such services in busy emergency rooms will finally be able to get this treatment in community settings on a regular basis. For people with very high health care needs, better access to care and improved health status can make permanent supportive housing a more realistic goal, or make losing one’s home less of a threat to begin with.
The Affordable Care Act will definitely help vulnerable homeless individuals who now lack the access to services that health insurance provides. Community-based systems of care will benefit in turn. By one national estimate, Medicaid funding will increase by 27 percent in the first years of the expansion. This means new revenues in every state and every local system now receiving Medicaid funds. Strategic use of these new resources could lead to expanded capacity to solve chronic homelessness.
Of course, there is a long way to go before these promises of health care reform reach the front door of homelessness assistance programs. Federal administrators and state policymakers have yet to define key elements -- such as basic benefits – or create programs to guarantee access for the hard-to-find and hard-to-serve.
More worrisome are the recurring moments when the powers-that-be in Washington think about drastic cuts to entitlements like Medicaid. Medicaid already helps millions of low-income people. It is already the foundation of critical safety net systems in every state. Cutting services now will increase vulnerability to homelessness. Delaying the expansion, which is absolutely critical to ending chronic homelessness, would be a serious setback for housing policy as well.
To learn more about Medicaid and homelessness, check out the Alliance’s web resources, and to get involved in our efforts to protect benefits like Medicaid, sign up for the Alliance Advocacy Alerts.... Read More »
Introducting: Guest bloggers, tweeters, and Facebook friends for the week
September 09, 2011
Greetings Alliance friends and supporters!
The week of September 12, we – the usual guards of the Alliance blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts – will be away from the office. But during that time, you will have the great opportunity to hear directly from some of our colleagues.
Each day, a new expert will take the reigns of our online community and share with you their perspectives on the Alliance, our work, and ending homelessness.
Monday, September 12: Elizabeth
Our resident fundraiser will share with you news from our latest Annual Report, how fundraising happens here at the Alliance, and how your hard earned donations make the difference in our program and policy work. If you have questions about the way the Alliance conducts fundraising, nonprofit development news, or have suggestions about online fundraising for the Alliance, make sure to shoot a note to Elizabeth on Facebook or Twitter on Monday!
Tuesday, September 13: Pete
Research associate and fan favorite Pete will share with you the poverty data that the U.S. Census Bureau will release that day and help break down what the data means for low-income and homeless people. It’s no surprise that many poor people are at risk of experiencing homelessness and that poverty is often associated with the highest homelessness risk factors including doubled up housing situations, severe housing cost burden, unemployment and/or low wages, and the like. Got research questions? Tuesday’s the day for them!
Wednesday, September 14: Kim &am... Read More »
Talking Medicaid: First Steps in Building Effective Homelessness-Health Care Partnerships
April 06, 2011
Today's guest post was written by Alliance senior policy analyst Lisa Stand. I am a lot more familiar with health care issues than with homelessness and housing. But, now that I’ve been at the Alliance for five months, I’m starting to see the forest and the trees, the big picture of the current State of Homelessness and the amazing talented and committed people who are ending homelessness one person at a time. More often than not, that same person was just the very same one health care advocates had in mind as they worked to pass the Affordable Care Act. So why, when it comes to implementation, are there sometimes disconnects between housing and health care in the safety net?
One word: Medicaid. Beginning in 2014, almost everyone with very low incomes ($10,800 for an individual) will be eligible for Medicaid – no matter where they go for treatment or support. That’s going to be a change for those chronically homeless individuals without Medicaid disability coverage or other insurance. Changes may be in store, also, for the programs that care for them. Suddenly, both patients and communities will be able to utilize Medicaid dollars they never had access to before - so Medicaid is the current topic in strategies to serve individuals in permanent supportive housing. The question is how?
Medicaid is unlike any other program, in so many ways. To mention one, it really... Read More »
Friday News Roundup: Check Us Out
April 01, 2011
So, I could tell you that the week’s news has been about budgets and housing – again. I could tell you that writers from Providence, RI and Passaic County, NJ and Los Angeles, CA are discussing the role that budgets will play on housing for low-income people. And that there was a pretty cool opinion piece penned by VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs L. Tammy Duckworth about assisting women veterans returning from service.
But it’s pretty much the same old, same old so I’ll tell you about some cool things the Alliance is doing.
We’re publishing a series on “Notes from the Field” on the blog – you may have caught the first and second postings. The CAP team at the Alliance wants to share with you things that they’ve found while working on-the-ground with communities.
We’re administering a survey! Help us out my taking this 5 minute, 10-question survey about advocacy around homelessness issues – and pass it on to a friend!Check out the library. We’re always updating our website with new documents, resources, and tools to help communities end homelessness. Items of note: our new domestic violence brief, information about health care reform, and the Advocacy Toolkit.
Check them out! ... Read More »
Community-based health providers preventing and ending homelessness
March 28, 2011
Today's post comes from Alliance policy analyst, Lisa Stand.
A new report from the National Association of Community Health Centers discusses the crucial role community-based health providers play in efforts to end homelessness and relieve its effects on health and quality of life.
Community agencies that work with people experiencing homelessness are probably most familiar with the specialized Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) clinics, which last year served more than 800,000 people experiencing homelessness nationwide, through 208 separate projects. In addition, permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs are often connected in one way or another to a community health clinic, assuring a source of primary care for PSH residents and adding to housing stability.
While community health is financed in a variety of ways, federal funding is paramount, through Medicaid and grants to Federally-Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), to name a few federal sources. According to the NACHC report, “health centers operate in more than 8,000 locations and serve 23 million patients.” Access to community health care services helps make the business case for PSH, and health centers anchor local safety nets to help prevent homelessness.
The report, “Community Health Centers: The Local Prescription for Better Quality and Lower Costs,” was released last week, as a couple thousand advocates for community health centers gathered in Washington to help Congress understand their vital role in communities across the country.
Are you interested in learning more about how health care reform can help end homelessness? Email us and check o... Read More »
How Health Care Reform Will Affect Homeless or At-Risk Populations
February 28, 2011
If you are not sure how the new health care law will help end homelessness, you are not alone.
Only time will tell – and it may be a long time. That’s because some of the biggest changes do not take effect until 2014. And even then, so much depends on decisions to be made in Washington, DC and in each state – before and after 2014.
In the meantime, advocates and housing providers can help shape the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a strong part of housing strategies – especially for chronically homeless individuals. As the ACA is implemented, the Alliance will offer tools, suggestions, and information for communities to make the most of new opportunities. We will also host webinars, post issue briefs, write fact sheets, and ask you what’s happening in your neck of the woods, and – more importantly - what you need to bridge access to housing with access to health care.
For starters, consider these two factoids:
the ACA will extend Medicaid to an additional 16 million people nationwide;
the ACA encourages states to increase access to services and supports, promoting independent living in communities.
If you begin to view your housing strategies in light of these two touchstones of health reform, you are on your way to joining implementation efforts in your state. Next, organize your resources to get in the conversations about the ACA – provide a unique housing-oriented perspective, and ensure access to specific information about implementation in your state... Read More »
Why healthcare reform matters in the fight against homelessness
March 22, 2010
Yesterday marked an important moment in American legislative history. Last night (so late it was almost early this morning), the U.S. House of Representatives passed health care reform legislation. The hotly-contested legislation endured fierce debate up to the very end, and the final bill passed without any Republican support. While it may not be readily apparent, the health care reform bill has a significant effects on the homeless population. Among many other things, this legislation expands Medicaid eligibility to include people with incomes of up to 133 percent of the poverty level, covering nearly all people experiencing homelessness. Moreover, the legislation will also provide approximately $10 billion for community health centers for Fiscal Years (FY) 2011 through 2015. Typically, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allocates 8.7 percent of total community health center funding toward the Health Care for the Homeless program, which can be used to provide services to people in permanent supportive housing. The health care legislation also expands early childhood home visitation programs, which provide parent education, child development, and support services to low-income, at-risk young children and their families. President Obama has said he plans to sign the legislation on Tuesday, March 23.P.S. We made the video above last summer, when the healthcare reform debate was just heating up, but it still does a pretty adequate job of wrapping up how the two are related and why health care reform matters to homelessness. Let us know what... Read More »
Notes from Nan: The Healthcare-Homelessness Connection
October 19, 2009
Happy Monday, everyone!
In case you didn't catch it, we're posting Nan Roman's Huffington Post blog on here, entitled "the Healthcare-Homelessness Connection," - a look into how the current health care debate is affected by homelessness, and vice versa.
The Healthcare-Homelessness Connection
While health care reform is being hotly debated across the nation, one of the groups most likely to be affected by reform has been characteristically silent: people who are homeless.
It's a common misconception that everybody living in poverty is eligible for Medicaid -- in truth, there are many poor people who are not currently eligible for Medicaid. Non-disabled, childless adults -- even those with health problems -- are often not eligible. The same applies to mothers with health conditions whose children have been placed in foster care, and young adults aging out of the foster care system.
In fact, a 1996 nationwide study of homelessness found that only 25 percent of homeless single adults were enrolled in Medicaid.
It's not always easy to see, but homelessness and health care have a clear -- and cyclical -- relationship: poor health can lead to homelessness, and homelessness can aggravate poor health. And both can be a burden on our health care system.
Many people become homeless due to a lack of health care. Untreated illnesses can lead to disability and job loss -- and unemployment remains one of the leading causes of homelessness. It's worth noting here that the leading cause... Read More »
the President: Healthcare and the Homeless
September 09, 2009
President Barack Obama just finished his address to a joint session of Congress about health care reform. The raging debate over this monstrous social issue has been the cause of many an editorial, many a pundit's diatribe, and much distress and concern among the American public.
Tonight, the President reminded us about "the things that truly matter" and the importance of approaching our biggest challenges. He reminded us that we not only have a personal responsibility to take care of ourselves, but a moral and civic responsibility to look after those least among us. He reminded us that we can and must take on the hard challenges that confront us as a nation to make us, collectively, a healthier, more whole community. The President urged us to put aside our difference and focus on the common values and priorities that bring us together.
We know that the President could not be more right - and we support and applaud the President in his efforts to provide necessary services to the American people, and to make sure that those who are most in need also have access to critical care.
As I listened to the President discuss his priorities and agenda tonight, I could only be reminded (though perhaps because I'm surrounded by it day-after-day!) of those who really are the least among us. Not the middle class families or the post-college graduates - though their needs are equally important -... Read More »
Guest Blog: Homelessness and Health Care
August 17, 2009
Happy Monday, everyone!
We have a GREAT treat today! Maria Foscarinis, of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), sent us a piece on her organization's stance on the health care debate and the homelessness.
No doubt you've heard a thing or two about the raging controversy over health care. All the national papers, including the New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today are a-buzz with recent criticisms, potential changes, and the likelihood that the administration will concede to the hysteria of the general public.
In our little corner of the world, we wonder what the health care debate will mean for the homeless population. We wonder if reform - should reform pass - will make a tangible difference in their lives: will the chronically homeless get the medical attention they need? Will improved coverage curb the number of costly emergency-room visits? Will the poor and very poor be assured health care coverage under federal programs like Medicaid? And since the Post brought it up, what about the families?
Here at the Alliance, we know what we'd like to see. Check out senior policy analyst Peggy Bailey outline the Alliance's goals for improving health care.
And a slightly different perspective from our friends at the NLCHP. Many thanks to Maria Foscarinis and Ashley Shuler at NLCHP for their invaluable help in getting this piece posted today.
Tale of two health crises
By: Maria Foscarinis
Twenty two... Read More »