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Integrating Correctional and Community Health Care For Formerly Incarcerated People Who Are Eligible For Medicaid

NCJ Number
Health Affairs Volume: 33 Issue: 3 Dated: March 2014 Pages: 468-473
Kavita Patel; Amy Boutwell; Bradley W. Brockmann; Josiah D. Rich
Date Published
March 2014
6 pages
This article discusses the need to integrate correctional health care with community-based health care for recently released inmates who become eligible for Medicaid.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), States can choose to expand Medicaid eligibility criteria to adults under age 65 whose incomes do not exceed 138 percent of the Federal poverty level. This expansion includes covering a significant number of persons involved with the criminal justice system. One of the challenges resulting from this expansion is finding ways to integrate correctional health care with the community-based health care that will be available for recently released inmates. This article briefly examines the challenging health care needs of jail-involved persons and presents highlights of several programs that have been successfully implemented to link justice-involved people to community-based care. These programs include Project Bridge and the Community Partnerships and Supporting Services for HIV-Infected People Leaving Jail (COMPASS) programs in Rhode Island, the Transitional Clinics model that is being used in 10 cities across the country, and the Michigan Prisoner Reentry Initiative. The unifying characteristics of these successful programs are 1) they have proven to be clinically effective in engaging justice-involved persons in sustained care in the community; 2) they show that increased access to substance abuse treatment can be cost-effective and result in overall medical cost savings; and 3) they show how engaging people in health care upon their release from incarceration can reduce rates of recidivism. The article also discusses the policy implications of integrating correctional health care and community-based health care. 27 notes