California Set to Spend Billions to Try to End Homelessness

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Kaiser Health News reports on an ambitious new plan from California’s Med-Cal health insurance program to try to move beyond traditional doctor visits and hospital stays into the realm of social services. Under the program, vulnerable patients will be assigned a personal care manager to coordinate their health care treatments and daily needs like paying bills and buying groceries. “And they will receive services that aren’t typically covered by health insurance plans, such as getting security deposits paid, receiving deliveries of fruits and vegetables, and having toxic mold removed from homes to reduce asthma flare-ups. Over the next five years, California is plowing nearly $6 billion in state and federal money into the plan, which will target just a sliver of the 14 million low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal: homeless people or those at risk of losing their homes; heavy users of hospital emergency rooms; children and seniors with complicated physical and mental health conditions; and people in — or at risk of landing in — expensive institutions like jails, nursing homes, or mental health crisis centers. Gov. Gavin Newsom is trumpeting the first-in-the-nation initiative as the centerpiece of his ambitious health care agenda — and vows it will help fix the mental health and addiction crisis on the streets and get people into housing, all while saving taxpayer money. His top health care advisers have even cast it as an antidote to California’s worsening homelessness crisis.”

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