Right now, thousands of Katrina survivors are working to rebuild their lives. Health care services and health care coverage will be key components of these efforts, for individuals and families, affected states, and states that have welcomed Katrina survivors into their communities. In some way, the nation must ensure that individuals, families and state governments receive the helping hand they need to address the health care needs that are emerging in Katrina’s wake.
Katrina has created a health care crisis of unimaginable proportions. Survivors have acute health care problems – such as injuries that are directly related to the storm and flood – as well as chronic conditions that need immediate care and long-term attention. Fortunately, the United States can build upon a tested model to meet these needs – Disaster Relief Medicaid. After the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, a partnership between the city, New York State, the federal government and community-based organizations moved swiftly to provide easily accessible, comprehensive coverage to thousands of New Yorkers. This approach – with modifications that meet the needs of this disaster – can provide stable, dependable health coverage to Katrina survivors and enable Katrina-affected states, neighboring states, and other states sheltering Katrina survivors to cope with increased demands on their health care systems and state budgets.
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