Senate OKs two bills to use Medicaid funds to house homeless

STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved two bills aimed at creating innovative programs to use Medicaid funds to provide housing and other services to the homeless to provide stability in their lives and reduce expenses related to the overuse of emergency rooms.

“Housing the homeless might be one of the most effective and efficient investments we can make for public health. People who are homeless struggle to care for their health because their daily efforts to find shelter take precedence over activities like health maintenance. Getting people into housing removes that burden and allows for the freedom to get connected with programs and employment opportunities, while directly engaging in the most effective preventative care mechanism we have, a roof. Quite simply, medical care is less expensive when aligned with supportive housing,” said Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), who is the sponsor of one of the bills. In 2013, he co-chaired a Senate commission that studied ways to divert those seeking treatment for behavioral health issues away from emergency rooms and into more appropriate and less-costly treatment settings.