People experiencing homelessness face devastating physical and mental health consequences. They have higher rates of chronic illness and a life expectancy that is an average of 28 years shorter than people who are housed. These individuals also face high barriers to accessing critical healthcare and often delay seeking treatment. A recent study by Preble Street found that reliable and equitable transportation is one of the biggest barriers individuals face.
For the past nine months, Preble Street’s Advocacy and Health Services teams have been working on Healthcare Outreach to Process Experiences (HOPE), a qualitative and quantitative study funded by Maine Health Access Foundation to evaluate how the homeless population experienced the forced healthcare delivery changes, including telehealth, during the pandemic. 77% of individuals surveyed indicated that transportation was their primary barrier to accessing healthcare.
Upcoming legislation could change this! This Thursday, March 16, at 2 pm there will be a public hearing in the Maine Legislature on LD 619: An Act to Ensure Coordination of Care for MaineCare Members. The Health and Human Services Committee will be considering this bill which addresses several of the major systemic gaps in Maine’s Healthcare system. If passed, LD 619 would require the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to provide nonemergency transportation services to MaineCare members regardless of whether a member resides in a rural or nonrural setting. The bill would also require DHHS to reimburse providers for physical and behavioral healthcare, community support, and targeted case management services, ensuring that providers are able to comprehensively meet the needs of MaineCare patients without financial and logistical constraints.
Join Preble Street in telling the Health and Human Services Committee to support this important legislation! You can email committee members using the list below or submit oral or written testimony for Thursday’s hearing. Instructions on submitting testimony are available here.
Transportation should not be a barrier to healthcare!
Health and Human Services Committee email addresses: