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August 2016

Reducing Homelessness by Embracing Housing as a Medicaid Benefit

Author Affiliations
  • 1Family and Community Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Berkeley
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(8):1051-1052. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.2615

The health care needs and demographics of the homeless population in the United States are well understood.1 Although housing loss is associated with decrements in health and increased rates of acute care utilization, a small percentage of the homeless account for the majority of the health care resources used.2 Housing the homeless can improve health: after being placed in permanent supportive housing, homeless adults with AIDS had an 80% reduction in mortality.3 In addition to improving health outcomes, studies4,5 have shown that the savings in health care and incarceration costs can cover the cost of housing and lead to improved quality of life for the homeless population.