What They’re Watching: Senator Josh Green

Senator Josh Green, Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, joins us for this edition of What They’re Watching to talk about providing healthcare to the homeless.

“In the course of many years of delivering healthcare to people who are homeless as an ER doctor, I saw the same people coming over and over again… We found that the average spent per individual who is homeless in Hawaii and chronically suffering from drug addiction, alcohol abuse, or mental illness was on average spending $82,000 per homeless individual per year.  And they were doing it all at the ER because they had nowhere else to go. So, a very small percentage of our population on Medicaid, about 3.6 percent, were consuming 61 percent of our Medicaid resource. So, 13,000 people consume $1.2 billion health care dollars.”

“It was just cracking the foundation of our acute hospital system because there were too many visits for the wrong reasons. So, I was contacted by the CEO at Queen’s, Art Ushijima, who is a wonderful guy, and the leads in the insurance industry, and they said that we have to solve this Josh. You’re the chair of human services and you’re an ER doc, let’s put together a plan. The plan is this: you create a facility like the H4 and you provide healthcare and housing to the individuals that are utilizing the hospital’s services at a very high expense for a much lower cost. So, we can save 43 percent of all healthcare costs by having a facility like this and it’s going to be a humanitarian effort. People come in if they need hygiene services so they don’t go to Queen’s. If they need acute care, or urgent care for basic stuff, like wound care, they see us at the second floor. If they’re coming out of the hospital, and instead of going to the street, they go to third floor and save thousands and thousands of dollars everyday and when they’re ready, they can live on the fourth floor or go into permanent housing anywhere across the state. This project will deliver services to several thousand people and save the state over $35 million a year. So, everybody seems to be jumping on board.”