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For the homeless, federal changes promise better access to healthcare

Washington Post/Kaiser Health News, August 20, 2010

Beginning in 2014, Medicaid greatly expands under the new healthcare law to include adults without children, who generally have been excluded. The Medicaid expansion also will enable agencies that serve the homeless to divert resources now spent on medical care to other services such as finding housing and jobs. The new law provides another boost through a five-year, $11 billion expansion of the community health center system that treats many in this population. These benefits and President Obama's recently announced plan to prevent and end homelessness mark a watershed moment in federal efforts on this issue, advocates say. Among its goals, the plan calls for greater coordination among housing, medical care and behavioral health programs to help end chronic homelessness in five years and homelessness for families and children over the next decade.