Senate Bill 2 is a measures which begins the process for all Hawaii Medicaid providers to cover housing for those suffering chronic homelessness with drug addiction and mental illness. It will, essentially, classify homelessness as a medical condition and allow doctors to prescribe housing as treatment. Funds for housing would be derived from the states 2 billion dollar annual Medicaid allotment.
This initiative towards housing as healthcare has been a top legislative priority and a passion for me. Working as an emergency room physician on Big Island, I have witnessed first hand the revolving door of ER care to our community's chronically homeless. The treatment we are able to offer them is merely a band-aid that fails to address the root of their illness, and often sees the same people frequenting hospitals at an average cost of $120,000 per person per year to Medicaid and taxpayers.
Studies out of Hawaii suggest that if we can provide someone with stable, consistent housing for six months, the cost of their healthcare drops by an average of 43%. This has the potential to save the state millions of dollars in Medicaid that can then be re-directed to other critical homelessness prevention and social programs. If this measure is implemented to help our state's hardest hit chronically homeless, 1,800 suffering people will be housed and we will save $300 million a year.
It's a concept we cannot ignore, it takes heavily from lessons learned with Housing First, and its time has come.
Homelessness as a medical condition recognizes the concerns of the fiscal conservatives in our country, and the priorities of those whose focus is social justice. Overseeing this new concept, I know that many people share both of these philosophies. It is a concept where American's divergent priorities intersect.
I believe that this plan is both compassionate and fiscally responsible. It's a multi-faceted solution to begin tackling the epidemic of homelessness currently infecting our state and our nation.
KIRO Radio -- Seattle Morning News with Dave Ross
Fox Business Network -- How This Hawaii Politician Aims to Help the Homeless
West Hawaii Today-- Medicaid for Housing Bills Headed for Senate Vote
Hawaii Public Radio -- Looking Forward with Senator Josh Green
The Rush Limbaugh Show -- Take Two Rooms and Call Me in the Morning
MyNorthwest.com -- Should Doctors Write the Homeless Prescriptions for Housing?
HowHousingMatters.Org -- Legislation in Hawaii Hopes to Classify Homelessness As a Medical Condition
Senator, District 3, Kona, Ka'u
Chairman of the Human Services Committee
Fighting for Hawaii families
Josh Green, MD