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Facilitating Medicaid Enrollment for People with Serious Mental Illnesses Leaving Jail or Prison: Key Questions for Policymakers Committed to Improving Health and Policy Safety

NCJ Number
Date Published
6 pages
This policy brief provides guidelines for practitioners who enroll departing inmates with serious mental illnesses (SMI) into appropriate benefits programs.
To improve how jurisdictions identify and enroll eligible individuals with SMI into benefits programs, the Council of State Governments Justice Center has released this policy brief to help policymakers facilitate or strengthen effective collaboration among corrections, health, and mental health agencies to identify and enroll eligible individuals with SMI in these programs. The 2009 passage of healthcare reform legislation expands eligibility for Medicaid, making access to benefits even more important in the transition-to-community process for inmates, and especially for those inmates with SMI. For people with SMI leaving jail and prison, Medicaid and SSI/SSDI benefits can help ensure access to health care, housing, and other essential supports in the critical period immediately following release. However, benefits enrollment can be a complex and confusing process. This brief provides key guidance for elected officials, and corrections and mental health directors to understand what percentage of the corrections population is eligible for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI), how to identify eligible individuals at intake to the facility, and when to begin the application process for benefits program. 2 figures and 14 notes