Thursday, June 22, 2017

House the Homeless

It is easier to be homeless in the summer. So if you are homeless should you wander to a place that feels like summer year round? Hawaii has the highest number of homeless people than any other state. It is the first state to declare the problem an official State of Emergency. In desperation to solve the problem the state is trying a radical new approach. Lawmakers there this past March debated considered homelessness a medical illness. So, you will be able to get a prescription from your doctor for an apartment? Hmnnn! Maybe Trump will like this idea and build Trump Towers there for the homeless and bill the government for that too.
Related imageNow it can be doctor’s orders to get off the street. In Honolulu, Hawaii the homeless epidemic is very real. Our beautiful paradise is littered everywhere with people living out of their shopping carts. Gary Grinker is a homeless guy who is the highest uses of Medicaid in Hawaii. He walked out of the emergency room hospitals there 241 times last year. He cost the tax payers over $1.2 million dollars. The hospitals know him on a first name basis. He is just one of 1,900 people in the state who are sick chronically homeless people. They live on the streets for extended times and have on going medical conditions. Hawaii Senator Josh Green who is also a practicing Emergency Room doctor wants to redefine homelessness as a medical disease and allow doctors to   prescribe housing using Medicaid funds.
He says that the average life span of homeless people are age 50. He also believes that each housing prescription will cost an average of $20,000 dollars per year. Currently Hawaii spends about $95,000 on the average Medicaid user. So a prescription for a home is a real bargain and will keep the homeless out of the costly emergency rooms?  Neither the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association considers homelessness a medical disease.  Medicaid doesn’t let the state spend money on rent. Hawaii is a great place to be homeless because the weather is great, mobility is easy, food is everywhere and there is a sense of freedom there. Everyone goes to Hawaii to have fun.
So, is homelessness a social condition or a medical condition? Hawaii gets $2 billion dollars a year to be used for Medicaid. The homeless population uses up 60% of that money in the emergency rooms. The ambulance costs $1,000 and the emergency room costs for basic vital sign tests cost another 2-3 thousand dollars. They get checked out, get a few pills and are out on the street again. The homeless are repeat visitors to the emergency room at times for basic care. The doctors who treat these people know what is best for humans and not the bloated rich people in Washington, the Federal government lawmakers. Should Medicare pay for a home? No But these people would benefit greatly from being off the streets and would lead healthier lives. Even just clinics for the homeless would be a better funded idea to treat the homeless than have them clog up the costly places geared for real emergency treatments. The whole system needs to be revamped.

The Federal Government is always trying to cut costs and it is highly doubtful that they would vote to start a new entitlement program for the homeless even if it would be proven that it would be less costly   than emergency room visits. Do politicians want a reputation for spending money for anything?    

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