The Atlantic: Should Obamacare Help Pay for Housing?

A recently published article by The Atlantic explores using funds that are part of the Medicaid expansion to house the homeless. Highlighted are many of the advantages to using the Housing First model that makes housing homeless individuals and families the main focus, especially for those with a history of chronic homelessness and health problems. By viewing housing as a valuable health service we can not only save money, but help those who are homeless and living with serious health conditions gain the stability needed to turn their lives around.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

The federal government will spend $931 billion on the Medicaid expansion between now and 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Some of that money will be spent taking care of homeless people like Barnes, who can be particularly expensive to treat. Homelessness exacerbates all kinds of diseases, including diabetes. Those without homes are three to six times more likely to get ill than housed people. Homelessness also makes it more difficult for people with mental health and substance abuse issues to get treatment.

One of the best ways to keep homeless people healthy, studies have found, is to give them somewhere to live—the so-called “housing first” model, which gets the homeless off the streets and saves hospitals money in caring for them.

That’s led many advocates for the homeless to wonder—if we’re spending so much money through Obamacare to expand health coverage for poor people, why not spend it to house some of them, too?

“All I’m saying is, if I can take care of someone at a lower cost by providing them with housing, why wouldn’t the federal government let me?” said Dr. Mitch Katz, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services.

To read the entire article click here.