Health and Human Services

Transitional health care for homeless adults advanced

A bill that would provide short-term housing with supportive medical services for eligible adults experiencing homelessness advanced from general file Feb. 15.

Sen. Merv Riepe
Sen. Merv Riepe

LB905, introduced by Ralston Sen. Merv Riepe, would require the state Department of Health and Human Services to apply for a Medicaid waiver or state plan amendment with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services by Jan. 1, 2025, to designate two medical respite facilities for homeless individuals in Nebraska.

The facilities — one located in a primary class city and the other in a metropolitan class city — would be reimbursed for services to qualified individuals. Lincoln is the state’s only primary class city and Omaha is the only metropolitan class city.

Riepe said LB905 would be a proactive step toward addressing the health care needs of the state’s homeless population while also demonstrating fiscal responsibility. Eleven other states have implemented similar programs, he said, resulting in reductions in hospital stays, readmission rates and the cost of care.

One study found that every dollar spent on medical respite care programs results in $1.81 in savings, Riepe said.

“By investing in medical respite care, we not only uphold our duty to provide compassionate care to those in need,” he said, “but also stand to realize cost savings [to] the state.”

Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart spoke in support of the proposal, saying recent sub-zero temperatures across Nebraska further highlighted the needs of homeless residents. She said long-term exposure to extreme elements can result in frequent health care challenges that require an emergency care setting.

“[LB905 is] an opportunity for us to make a commitment to those who are unsheltered in our community that they will be provided evidence-based medical services for the length of time that they truly need to heal,” Wishart said. “During that time, [they also will] be connected with housing options, job options, sobriety support and other types of essential services that can help somebody get onto their feet.”

Senators advanced the bill to select file 38-0.

Bookmark and Share