Sanborn bill would help homeless youth access health care services

Posted: April 19, 2019 | Health and Human Services, Senator Linda Sanborn

AUGUSTA — Legislation submitted by Sen. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, would make it easier for homeless youth to receive the health care services they need. LD 1275, “An Act To Support Access to Health Services for Homeless Youth in Maine,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Friday.

“Homeless youth are at risk of many dangers, including assault, sex trafficking, substance abuse and suicide,” said Sen. Sanborn. “These youth may well have an urgent need to access a health care or a mental health provider. Young people cited lack of mental health care as their greatest barrier to success at work and in school.”

Under current Maine law, minors must be living separately from their parents for at least 60 days before they can consent to their own medical, mental, dental or other health services. This bill would amend Maine law to allow minors to provide consent for all medical, mental, dental and other health counseling and services by proving that they are living separately and independent of parental support. The bill also adds a liability shield for health care providers if they have been compliant with the law and adequately confirmed the minor patient was able to consent on their own.

“By facilitating physical health care for homeless youth, LD 1275 will lower emergency room costs and help youth remain healthy enough to reach their education and employment goals, and end their homelessness,” said Heather Zimmerman, Advocacy Director at Preble Street.

The bill faces further action in the committee and votes before the Maine Senate and House.