“Restarting your life after prison: Providing Medicaid at reentry can help”

According to this opinion piece:

“Justice-involved people have higher rates of physical and mental health problems, from hypertension to asthma, cancer, infectious diseases and substance use disorders. Once released from jail or prison, they lose medications for such conditions, and reestablishing prescriptions, supportive care and health coverage is a slow and frustrating process.

But now New York and other states are poised to ease such struggles by obtaining waivers from a longstanding federal law provision barring Medicaid from covering services in prisons and jails. A bipartisan bill in Congress would permit Medicaid coverage 30 days prior to release, but states aren’t waiting. In January, California became the first to receive a waiver allowing it to use Medicaid, the health insurance program for Americans with low incomes, to cover certain services for people near the end of their incarceration.”

Read full article here

The Prison Policy Initiative also published a piece discussing “Why states should change Medicaid rules to cover people leaving prison” that explains more about the inmate exclusion policy and its implications.

“The gap in healthcare coverage following incarceration leads to high rates of death just after release: During just the first two weeks after release from prison, people leaving custody face a risk of death more than 12 times higher than that of the general U.S. population, with disproportionately high rates of deaths from drug overdose and illness. A huge contributing factor to this astronomically high death rate following release is the healthcare coverage gap: People lose health insurance coverage while in jail or prison and their lack of coverage continues post-release, leaving many without access to adequate, timely, and appropriate health care in those critical first weeks of reentry.

Fortunately, we have a way to address this healthcare coverage gap, and to improve the health and safety of our communities in general: Medicaid. Research shows that expanding access to healthcare through Medicaid saves lives and reduces crime and arrest rates — along with state spending — making this a reform strategy whose time has come.”

Read full blog post here


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