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Medicaid expansion can help Maine’s homeless veterans access care

November 02, 2017 | Bangor Daily News

Refusal to expand Maine’s Medicaid program has left many homeless veterans to suffer in shelters and on the street. Maine has the fifth highest per capita population of veterans in the nation, and Medicaid is essential for veterans. Yet we have repeatedly turned our backs.

Veterans are more likely to experience homelessness than the overall population, and Medicaid is important for “veterans experiencing homelessness who have high rates of chronic health conditions, disabilities, mental health issues, and alcohol or substance use disorders,” according to a new Kaiser Family Foundation report.

Using data collected from Health Care for the Homeless projects in nine states, the report includes both states that expanded their Medicaid programs and those that didn’t, and the numbers are striking. In those states that expanded Medicaid, 55 percent of homeless veterans served were covered by Medicaid, compared with only 5 percent in nonexpansion states.

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