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Critical Connections: Getting People Leaving Prison and Jail the Mental Health Care and Substance Use Treatment They Need - What Policymakers Need to Know about Health Care Coverage

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2017
158 pages
Based on a collaborative effort among experts in health policy, behavioral health, and criminal justice, this report provides information on how persons released from incarceration can obtain community-based mental health and substance use treatment services through Medicaid and other government funding sources.
Information is provided on five issues. The section on "identifying enrollment and eligibility status" discusses the importance of developing the infrastructure and processes for identifying people with health needs in prisons and jails who are potentially eligible for Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI), and veterans health care and benefits. The section on "maintaining enrollment and reactivating or re-enrolling in benefits on release" examines States' discretion to suspend or terminate Medicaid coverage for incarcerated people, and it discusses when Social Security and veterans benefits are sustained. A third section addresses "assisting with applications," which illustrates the range of application processes being used for Medicaid and SSI/SSDI and the impact of length of stay, available staffing, data structures, and privacy mandates. The fourth section addresses "examining Medicaid-reimbursable behavioral health services in the community and addressing gaps." The fifth section focuses on "tracking progress." It examines which eligibility and enrollment activities should be tracked, acknowledging that progress in these programs can be difficult, especially if data systems are inadequate in terms of coverage and technology. By using the questions posed in this report as a basis for discussion, policymakers in corrections and behavioral health, Medicaid, and other benefit authorities will be able to analyze existing policy and practice regarding the funding of behavioral health services for those released from prisons and jails. 432 notes and an index of State or county examples and cross-cutting topics

Date Published: January 1, 2017