Hawaii Senate Will Vote on The Bill to Declare Homelessness as Serious Illness
The State Senate of Hawaii on Tuesday, Feb. 28 has passed two Senate Bills to go on the floor. The bills require health insurance provider to offer coverage for homelessness, practically declaring being homeless as medical condition.
Senate Bill 2 was introduced by senator Josh Green in early February, The Guardian reported. The Democratic senator who is also a physician himself said that the idea came from his experience in the emergency room. He saw so many homeless patients were treated for basic condition but lack of long term benefit.
“I’m really just applying a band-aid,” Sen. Green said to illustrate his work in the emergency room to deal with homeless patients. “But these problems require intensive long-term support.”
Therefore, he took initiative to draft two bills to declare homelessness as medical condition. Therefore a doctor can prescribe a housing to the homeless patient. The first bill is Senate Bill 2, which require health insurance provided to provide coverage for homeless people. While the second one is Senate Bill 7, which required the housing benefit plan to be created by the Department of Human Service using Medicaid.
The bills have passed two committees according to West Hawaii Today. The bill has been amended to allow the usage of Medicaid funds to treat homelessness.
Hawaii is the state with the highest number of homeless people. Based on the recent survey from the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Hawaii has 50 from its 100,000 residents being homeless. The number is an increase of 23.7 percent from the previous year.
The report also noted other states that record the increase in the number of homeless people. Oregon and South Carolina has the 59.5 and 236 percent of increase respectivey. While Los Angeles is recorded as the city with the highest number of homeless people with around 13,000 people living in the street.
Watch the Associated Press report regarding homelessness in Hawaii below: