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Pilot Program Will Expand Medicaid To The Chronically Homeless In Central Florida Starting in July

Sign reading: "Homele$$ Need Work Anything Helps"
Creative Commons
The Florida Channel
Florida is one of fourteen states that hasn't expanded Medicaid.

The more than $750,000 dollar grant from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services will be distributed to local agencies like the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. 

Director Shelley Lauten says the organization plans on using the funds to help the families and individuals they serve find and stay in affordable housing. That includes paying for expenses that might make it hard to keep up with rent and utilities.

“You have to make sure you’re getting to your doctors. You’re seeing a primary care provider and not going to an emergency room. Those kinds of costs associated with keeping someone in their homes would be the kind of things a grant like this could help us continue to fund.”

Martha Are works closely with Lauten as the director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida.

Are says her organization will also use this funding to address the behavioral health needs of the people they’ve helped find housing.

“The original language included some intensive on-site intervention. Along with a mobile crisis opportunity. That would be behavioral health professionals able to work with individuals wherever they were when the crisis occurs. And that’s a 24-7 mobile crisis opportunity.”

Both Lauten and Are say if the program is successful it could lead to more funding for local homeless outreach as well as a broader expansion of Medicaid in the state. Florida is one of only 14 states that hasn’t expanded the federally funded health insurance program.

The pilot program will begin in July and will serve about 300 people in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Brevard Counties.