Advocates Hope Homeless Will Receive Better Health Care

Advocates for the homeless are seeking to make sure that any health care reform measure meets the needs of these people who sometimes do not qualify for Medicaid. NPR reports on a Baltimore homeless clinic and notes: "Most homeless people in America are too poor to buy their own health coverage, but many also don't qualify for Medicaid, the government-run health program for the poor. Medicaid is mainly for people who have children or a disability, and most homeless people are childless adults." Jeff Singer, president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless of Maryland says, "In 41 states, single adults are not eligible for Medicaid.... So you can have zero income and still not be eligible for any sort of health insurance." 

NPR reports that "advocates have been encouraged by the health care legislation now moving through Congress. The House-passed bill would expand Medicaid coverage to millions of additional low-income adults. The Senate Finance Committee is considering a similar move. But these measures could be endangered as concerns grow over how to pay for the health care bill: Such a Medicaid expansion is expected to cost more than $430 billion over the next 10 years. The nation's governors — who usually bear a share of Medicaid costs — are worried." Meanwhile, homeless advocates "hope the needs of their clients don't get lost in the larger debate. One way or the other, they say, the public will end up footing the bill for the homeless" (Fessler, 8/25).

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