By Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News
On a recent winter morning, health outreach worker Christopher Mack walked through the streets and alleys of the city’s Skid Row, passing a man pulling a rusty shopping cart and a woman asleep on a crumpled blue tarp. The smell of marijuana wafted through the cold air.
“Do you have health insurance?” Mack, a towering man with long dreadlocks, asked one woman. “Do you go to the doctor?” he asked another.
Homeless men and women who didn’t qualify for insurance in the past now have the chance to sign up, and Mack — who was once homeless himself — is there to help.
The Affordable Care Act allows states to expand Medicaid to include poor people without children or disabilities who haven’t been able to get the free insurance in the past. Experts say determining how many homeless people are eligible for Medicaid is difficult but estimates range from about 500,000 to as many as 1.2 million. California is one of the 25 states (plus Washington, D.C.) that is expanding its Medicaid program, called Medi-Cal here. Continue reading