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May 10, 2024

States lining up for federal approval to extend Medicaid to people soon to be released from prison

A new federal policy that allows states to provide Medicaid health care coverage to incarcerated people at least a month prior to their release has drawn bipartisan interest and a slew of state applications (Source: “Many states are eager to extend Medicaid to people soon to be released from prison,” Stateline via Baltimore Sun, May 8).
Federal policy has long prohibited Medicaid spending on people who are incarcerated in jails or prisons, except for hospitalization. As a result, when people are released, they typically don’t have health insurance and many struggle to find health care providers and get needed treatment. A seminal 2007 study found that former prisoners in Washington state were 12 times more likely to die from all causes within two weeks of release, compared with the general population. The leading causes were drug overdoses, cardiovascular disease, homicide and suicide.
Under federal guidance released a year ago, states can connect prisoners with case managers 30-90 days before they are released to develop plans based on their health needs. The case manager can help the person make post-release appointments with primary care doctors, mental health counselors, substance use programs, and housing and food assistance.
As of last month, federal officials had approved waiver applications from four states — California, Massachusetts, Montana and Washington. Nearly 20 other states are waiting for approval, according to health research organization KFF.

Upcoming ACEs event

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio is partnering with Franklin County Public Health to host a two-part event focused on preventing and mitigating Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Register here