Free Asthma Care Available for Homeless Children

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Under a federal district judge?s ruling, New York City and the state have agreed to provide free medical care to thousands of homeless children with asthma. This court order settles a class-action lawsuit filed against the city and state in 2000. The number of children in city homeless shelters has risen by 89% in 4 years to 16,655, compared with a daily average of 8826 in 1999, according to James B. Anderson, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

The terms of agreement state that homeless families in city shelters will receive detailed information about asthma. Every homeless child on Medicaid, the federal-state program for low-income people, is entitled to health screenings that include "assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of asthma." Also, the city will take many steps to inform homeless families that their children are eligible for free services to prevent and treat asthma. As for better education for individuals who work in homeless shelters, New York City vowed to provide yearly training to help workers recognize and treat asthma. The city will provide more basic training on asthma to employees at its job centers and offices that take applications for welfare, food stamps, and Medicaid. Furthermore, they will hand out information on asthma in public schools and at day care centers.