Sen. Josh Green of Hawaii is proposing a new bill that will label homelessness as a medical condition.
The former physician turned politician believes this bill would enable doctors to prescribe homeless individuals with a different kind of medicine: housing.
Green, in an interview with The Guardian, explained his own experiences dealing with homeless, sickened people in emergency rooms.
In his explanation, Green states many of the ailments he’s seen can be simplistically treated, but there is no long-term benefit since they quickly get sick again due to improper living conditions (i.e. living in the streets instead of in a home). “I’m really just applying a band-aid,” Green said. “But these problems require intensive long-term support.”
A recent state government study conducted in Hawaii shows that over half of the state’s $2 billion Medicaid allotment was utilized by individuals dealing with homelessness, mental illness, and substance addiction.
To qualify for Green’s proposal and be prescribed a “house,” the patient must have been homeless for at least six months. The patient must also be a victim of mental illness or a substance addiction. “We’re already spending the money on homeless people, we’re just paying for it in the most inefficient, expensive way possible,” Green argued. “We have a lot of capacity, but lack the political will.”
Despite Green’s suggestion, the Hawaii Department of Human Resources Development believes prescribing adequate housing to the homeless populace should not be a part the healthcare system. “There is a population of homeless [for whom] it is clearly a medical condition – the substance abusers and the mentally ill,” said Bob McDermott, a Republican lawmaker. “But other than that, it seems to be a stretch.”
H/T: The Guardian
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