HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Health and Homelessness

Ezra Klein has an interesting post on the Washington Post story concerning the number one cause of homelessness - untreated chronic disease.
He writes,

. . . The #1 cause of death among the homeless is untreated chronic disease.  It's also a major cause of homelessness.  The Washington Post tells the story of Vaughn Bell -- he had a solid job at a teen rehab clinic, an apartment, a good life. "The sickness stripped it all away. Everything. Bell fell ill with kidney disease. Because he was sick, he couldn't work and lost the job. Because he lost the job, he lost his apartment and had to go to a homeless shelter. Because he lived in a homeless shelter, he had to take two trains and a bus to get to dialysis treatments. He fell behind, stopped caring for himself, then just stopped caring."

This isn't a policy post, necessarily. I don't know how to holistically end the ravages of chronic disease. A universal health care system could ensure treatment, but it can't keep you from losing your job, or from having to travel too far for care, or from falling into depression and giving up, or from lacking the money to purchase the sort of food your body needs. But it's worth thinking about.

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