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Italy moves to extend free healthcare to homeless people

Trial project set to help homeless people overcome barriers to access healthcare.

A bill that extends public healthcare to homeless people in Italy was passed unanimously by the chamber of deputies on 25 June and now moves to the senate for approval.

The proposed legislation, presented by Marco Furfaro of the centre-left Partito Democratico, is designed to fill a gap that excludes homeless people in Italy from the national health system.

Until now Italy's homeless can only receive emergency medical assistance, without access to regular healthcare services from the state, because they do not have a registered residence.

Without a residence it is currently impossible to register with a general practitioner, book a medical visit or receive other preventive medical treatment.

This leaves homeless people in limbo, relying on the help of charities and non-profit organisations which offer free medicine or visits in mobile health clinics.

It also results in more frequent visits to emergency rooms, incurring higher economic costs compared to GP visits, as well as higher incidences of worsening health problems due to the lack of medical check-ups and preventative care.

The Furfaro bill was initially designed to extend basic healthcare to all homeless people, with an estimated cost of €4 million - newspaper Domani reports - however following a compromise with the centre-right parties the proposed law is set to start out as a trial project with funding of €2 million for 2025 and 2026.

The funds will be allocated for medical services for homeless people in 14 cities: Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Catania, Florence, Genoa, Messina, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Turin and Venice.

"This law not only restores the full right to care to tens of thousands of human beings, but they will finally know that the state has not abandoned them", Furfaro told Domani, adding that the law "heals an injustice" and gives homeless people "the right to fully access the public and free healthcare system".

Photo credit: Edward R /

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