A Novel, and Healthy, Way to Reduce Recidivism
Date:  05-18-2016

Access to Medicaid while incarcerated makes for a smoother transition back into the community post release
From Think Progress

For the thousands of incarcerated Americans, prison may be the first place they’ve ever received comprehensive health care. But what happens after their sentence is up?

At least half of the inmates in America’s prisons and jails have some form of mental illness. Sixty-five percent have a substance abuse addiction. Behind bars, they may be able to get into rehab or start taking needed medication for the first time in their life.

But leaving prison can mean leaving behind this crucial health care coverage — something that can ultimately determine former inmates’ ability to successfully reenter the outside world.

At the end of April, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) tried to shine a light on this issue by releasing slightly updated Medicaid eligibility guidelines for former prisoners. In hopes of preventing dangerous gaps in medical coverage, the department urged state prisons to help inmates sign up for Medicaid prior to their release, and announced that those finishing their sentences in a halfway house are now eligible for Medicaid coverage.

“It is important to understand the critical role access to health care plays in successful returns to the community for so many Americans trying to change their lives,” said Richard Frank, HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, in a press releasepaired with April’s announcement. The guidelines, he added, will help reduce the risk of former prisoner being “re-incarcerated or hurt.” Read more