In California, more than 151,000 people are experiencing homelessness and in Los Angeles County alone, almost 66,000 people are homeless. For those that are experiencing homelessness, street medicine provides direct, comprehensive care to those living on the street and under bridges, as those experiencing homelessness often suffer from poorer health, on average have life expectancies 30 years shorter than their housed-counterparts and less access to preventive, primary and specialty health services. This has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concerns for basic survival needs, transportation, lack of a mailing address, lack of ID and mental illness are some of the most significant barriers that keep this vulnerable population from accessing care through the traditional healthcare model. In integrating street medicine into Medi-Cal, those experiencing homelessness can get direct access to preventive, primary care services. Without primary care, those experiencing homelessness end up in hospital emergency rooms with multiple, untreated and advanced health issues. It is calculated that they then have 740% more hospital days at 170% greater cost per day than those who are housed, and state Medi-Cal pays the bill.
The Street Medicine Act (AB369) is focused on increasing access to health and social services for those experiencing homelessness in bringing them into the existing healthcare infrastructure. AB369, proposed by Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (District 54), seeks to remove barriers to care by requiring the Department of Healthcare Services to add street medicine as a Medi-Cal benefit.
California residents, please contact your State Senators and ask them to support the Street Medicine Act (AB369) http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov
For more information and to support the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Street Medicine program, please visit: https://sites.usc.edu/streetmedicine