- There are approximately 10,500 homeless individuals living in Tennessee.1 If Tennessee reflects national averages, 6,300 of the individuals experiencing homelessness in Tennessee lack health insurance.2 Because the new health care law allows states to expand their Medicaid programs to cover individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, nearly all of these individuals would be eligible for Medicaid if Tennessee chooses to expand the program.
- The need for health insurance among Tennessee?s homeless population is great. People experiencing homelessness are more likely to have disabilities, injuries, or serious medical conditions like high blood pressure, cancer, pneumonia, or tuberculosis.3 Nearly half of all homeless people have some history of mental illness.4
- Because they often do not have health insurance, many people experiencing homelessness rely on emergency rooms for treatment. In urban hospitals, uninsured homeless patients may account for as much as 30 percent of emergency room cases.5 Emergency room care is a costly and inefficient way to provide basic health care. Hospitals pass on much of the cost of providing care to uninsured patients to patients with insurance, which raises insurance premiums for everyone.
- The health reform law requires state Medicaid programs to provide enrollees with many essential health services, including prescription drugs, substance abuse treatment, preventive care, and chronic disease management. If Tennessee chooses not to expand its Medicaid program, thousands of adults experiencing homelessness will remain unable to access these much-needed and cost-effective services.
- Most importantly, expanding Medicaid will save lives. Currently, the average life expectancy for homeless people is between 42 and 52 years, compared to 78 years for the general population.6 Expanding Medicaid will provide individuals experiencing homelessness with access to life-saving health care, helping to eliminate this disparity.
Medicaid Expansion Would Help Tennessee’s Homeless
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NHeLP comments to Tennessee's 1115 waiver project requesting to implement a Medicaid block grant.
- November 26, 2019
In a letter to administrator Seema Verma, the National Health Law Program has asked CMS to return Tennessee’s recently…
- July 14, 2014
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