The Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicaid expansion offers a significant opportunity to increase coverage and improve access to care for individuals experiencing homelessness, who historically have had high uninsured rates and often have multiple, complex physical and mental health needs. This analysis provides an early look at the impact of the expansion for homeless providers and the patients they serve, building on an earlier brief examining the potential role of Medicaid expansion for this population. It is based on focus groups conducted with administrators, providers, and enrollment workers at four sites serving homeless individuals in states that have expanded Medicaid (Albuquerque, NM; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; and Portland, OR) and one site in a state that has not expanded (Jacksonville, FL), as well as administrative data collected from the sites. It finds:
The Medicaid expansion has led to significant increases in coverage that are contributing to improved access to care and broader benefits for homeless individuals. Participants and data from the study sites indicate that the Medicaid expansion has led to significant gains in coverage among the individuals they serve (Figure 1). Providers reported that these coverage gains have enabled patients to access many services that they could not obtain while uninsured, including some life-saving or life-changing surgeries or treatments. Participants also identified other broader benefits for homeless individuals stemming from Medicaid coverage gains. For example, providers noted improvements in individuals’ ability to work and maintain stable housing due to better management of health conditions. In addition, participants said individuals have reduced financial stress and improved access to other services and programs, including disability benefits.