Homeless communities will be able to have easier access to healthcare thanks to federal funding.
Among the many serious issues that come along with being homeless, a lack of available health care is one of the most concerning. Without the ability to simply make a doctor’s appointment and have any concerns addressed, homeless people are always at an elevated risk of health events that take a serious toll on them in both the short and long term.
Fortunately, access to healthcare for homeless people has recently received a facelift, and it will now be easier for those on the street to get access to the care they need and deserve. While the ultimate goal remains, of course, to get as many people off of the street and into secure housing as possible, making health care available is a good step in the right direction.
One of the key drivers in terms of who gets health care service in the United States is what facilities and providers are allowed to bill for services. Previously, so-called “street medicine” providers couldn’t deliver services to homeless people, meaning those people simply didn’t receive care. As of October 1st, however, that has changed, and it is now permissible to bill for such treatments.
With so many people across the country currently homeless, this adjustment has been an important one. It is already being taken up by many states, like California and Pennsylvania, and more are sure to follow. It was never before seen as legitimate to offer health care on the street, but that’s become a necessity, and now providers can get paid for doing this important work.
Now that funding is opening up, there are many street medicine programs that are going to hit their stride and probably expand operations. At this point, roughly 150 such operations are up and running, with a large percentage of those located in California. As it is seen how effective this approach to health care can be, and how many people can benefit from the ability to easily see a doctor, hopefully this type of care will continue to spread and reach more and more of the population.
It may be possible that this kind of health care will do more than improve the physical health of homeless people. Ideally, getting the care they need will put these people in a better position to work on the other parts of their lives, including breaking out of the cycle of homelessness, finding reliable housing, securing employment, and more. It’s not easy to take those kinds of steps when already homeless, but having the ability to address physical health concerns is a move in the right direction.
In a perfect world, no one would have to live on the street, exposed to the elements and the many dangers of such an environment. This is not a perfect world, however, and taking steps toward bettering the situation of others is a better approach than doing nothing at all. By freeing up resources to offer health care services to the homeless population, those individuals will hopefully get valuable care more regularly.