Monday, July 15, 2024

Health Care Coverage Expanded for People Transitioning out of Incarceration in Five States

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Health care coverage for adults and youth transitioning out of incarceration has been initiated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as part of a groundbreaking effort to provide Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits.

This initiative addresses the significant delays these individuals often face in accessing Medicaid or CHIP upon their return to the community, which can harm public health and safety. The latest approvals include Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, and Vermont, which join California, Massachusetts, Montana, and Washington in this innovative approach to expand access to high-quality, affordable health care.

Health Care Initiative by HHS to Enhance Equity and Support for Incarcerated Individuals

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra highlighted the importance of this initiative in advancing health equity across the nation. He emphasized that providing health care supports and services is crucial for individuals transitioning out of the justice system to successfully reintegrate into their communities. CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure noted that, for the first time, thousands of incarcerated individuals in the approved states would have critical support during their transition, thanks to Medicaid and CHIP programs. She pointed out that these programs are central to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to enhance public health and safety through innovative measures.

The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) Director, Dr. Rahul Gupta, underscored the role of expanding access to life-saving treatment and recovery supports as part of the bipartisan efforts to combat the overdose epidemic. Dr. Gupta highlighted President Biden’s commitment to addressing this epidemic as part of his Unity Agenda, which aims to deliver progress for the American people through bipartisan collaboration. He praised the approved states for their participation in this initiative, which aims to strengthen public health, enhance public safety, and save lives.

The Medicaid Reentry Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity allows states to cover certain services not typically covered by Medicaid and CHIP up to 90 days before an eligible person’s expected release from incarceration. This coverage includes substance-use disorder (SUD) treatment and facilitates the connection to community-based Medicaid and CHIP providers to ensure continuity of care post-release.

Health Care

Health Care Initiative to Increase Coverage and Continuity for Incarcerated Individuals

Increase coverage, continuity of care, and service uptake by assessing eligibility and availability of coverage in carceral settings just before release. Improve access to services before release and enhance transitions into the community. Enhance coordination and communication among correctional facilities, Medicaid programs, CHIPs, managed care plans, and community-based providers. Increase investments in health care and related services to improve care quality for incarcerated individuals.

Strengthen connections between carceral settings and community services to address physical health, behavioral health, and health-related social needs. Provide better interventions for behavioral health conditions and increase the use of stabilizing medications to reduce decompensation, suicide-related deaths, overdoses, and overdose-related deaths shortly after release. Optimize the use of health care resources post-release to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits, inpatient hospitalizations, and all-cause deaths among recently incarcerated individuals with Medicaid or CHIP eligibility.

A report from the HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation highlighted the significant health coverage and continuity-of-care needs faced by justice-involved individuals when returning to the community. These needs include high rates of SUD, opioid overdoses, serious mental illness, and infectious and other chronic physical health conditions. The Medicaid and CHIP reentry demonstrations have a proven track record of improving health and health care transitions for these individuals.

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CMS continues to work with other states on Medicaid reentry section 1115 demonstration requests. The agency has developed a standard demonstration application and special terms and conditions to expedite the approval process. CMS aims to balance efficiency with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority of advancing high-quality, affordable, and person-centered health care coverage. This streamlined approach is intended to be adopted for other section 1115 demonstration initiatives, furthering the goal of improving public health and safety across the nation.

Resource: Health and Human Services, July 2, 2024

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