Best of the rest: Should homelessness be classified as a medical condition?

    by Best of the web
    Wednesday, 1 March 2017 10:40 GMT

A sailboat passes in front of clouds lit up by the sunset sky off Waikiki in Hawaii, U.S., December 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Mining mafias, burning lakes - and all the top stories from across the web

This week Hawaiian lawmakers will vote on a radical bill which could fundamentally change how the state tackles homelessness, letting doctors begin prescribing houses to rough sleepers.

Physician and state senator Josh Green proposed the legislation, saying it would be massively cost effective and ease the strain on local hospitals.

Liz Barney reports for the Guardian from Honolulu, writing:

"A small number of homeless people require a disproportionate amount of medical treatment. According to Green, a recent internal study by a major Hawaiian insurer found that over half of the state’s $2bn Medicaid allotment was consumed by a tiny fraction of users, many of whom are dealing with homelessness, mental illness and substance addiction.

Yet research suggests that healthcare spending for those who have been homeless for long periods and struggle with mental illness and addictions falls by 43% after they have been housed and provided with supportive services. Green said many of the individuals he hopes to house cost the healthcare system an average of $120,000 annually, yet the annual cost to house an individual is $18,000."

Meanwhile, empathy towards rough sleepers has also been on display in Hamburg. When authorities erected a fence to stop homeless people from resting on a wall, locals began leaving donations on it - including food, sleeping bags, toiletries and even dog food, Jetzt reports.

- Sally Hayden

Discover more top stories from around the web this week. Have we missed anything? Tweet me @sallyhayd or email place@thomsonreuters.com.

 

NEWS

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