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Affordable Care Act and Criminal Justice: Intersections and Implications

NCJ Number
Andrea A. Bainbridge
Date Published
July 2012
21 pages
This white paper on the Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) contains provisions that have direct and indirect implications for criminal justice operations.
The ACA expands Medicaid, invests in health information technology, establishes health insurance exchanges, and specifies minimum essential health insurance coverage. The successful implementation of the ACA has the potential to decrease crime, recidivism, and criminal justice costs. It creates new opportunities for diversion and intervention at each point along the continuum of criminal justice systems, specifically during early diversion decisionmaking, court problem-solving strategies, and alternatives to incarceration. The ACA may potentially affect the level of correctional health care and have major ramification for the reentry process. In serving one of the largest catchment areas for individuals with mental health and substance-use disorders, infectious diseases, and chronic health conditions, the criminal justice system should be informed and integrated into State health care reform planning and implementation efforts. As of April 2012, $856 million in Federal funding has been invested in State planning efforts, which are underway in most jurisdictions without the input of criminal justice stakeholders. In order to position criminal justice entities as informed partners in the implementation of ACA, planning, training, and technical assistance opportunities are needed. This report presents an overview of ACA provisions before discussing practical considerations that address eligibility and enrollment, suspension versus termination, workforce capacity, continuity of care, and managed care. Planning recommendations focus on cross-systems planning, training, and technical assistance. 18 references

Date Published: July 1, 2012