Tags: Healthcare Reform | inmates | states | medicaid | obamacare | healthcare

States Enrolling Ex-Inmates in Medicaid Under Obamacare

By    |   Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 12:40 PM

One of the consequences of the passage of Obamacare was to increase the number of newly released prisoners eligible to enroll in Medicaid and more states are adopting policies to ensure they are quickly added to the program's rolls, reports the National Journal.

"In practical terms, it means someone can go right into treatment for substance abuse or mental health disorders" after release from custody, Dr. Harris Silver, co-chairman of the Bernalillo County (New Mexico) Opioid Abuse Accountability Initiative, told The Albuquerque Journal in March after state lawmakers passed legislation that will assist prisoners to enroll in the joint federal-state health program.

The legislation was sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino and was signed into law earlier this month by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, the Journal reported.

In the states which expand their Medicaid programs, formerly incarcerated individuals will comprise about 35 percent of newly eligible individuals, reported Kaiser Health News, citing Department of Justice estimates.

Since 1997, the federal government has permitted matching Medicaid funds to be used to pay for specialized hospital care outside the prison system for individuals who were Medicaid-eligible prior to their imprisonment.

However, more states are following New Mexico's lead.

The Illinois legislature is currently debating a measure similar to New Mexico's, while Ohio and North Carolina both have pilot programs designed to enroll newly released prisoners.

"Before, they're seeing a doctor that's in the jail or in the prison, or they're seeing a pharmacy that's in the jail or in the prison. It's about making sure they have access to care once they leave the system, in addition to having the eligibility for it," Aaron Larrimore, policy director with the National Association of Medicaid Directors, told the Journal.

Many states are moving forward to cover the incarcerated because they view it as a way to cut costs, considering total state local spending on uncompensated healthcare on the uninsured reached $17.2 billion in 2008, according to 2013 report by The Council of State Governments.

After implementing a similar system in 2010, North Carolina saw its prisoner medical costs decline from $90.4 million to $48 million, according to The Santa Fe Reporter.

According to a 2009 National Council of State Legislatures report, about 24 percent of inmates have a chronic health condition and that approximately 56 percent of inmates in state prisons suffer from some sort of mental health issue.

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One of the consequences of the passage of Obamacare was to increase the number of newly released prisoners eligible to enroll in Medicaid and more states are adopting policies to ensure they are quickly added to the program's rolls, reports the National Journal.
inmates, states, medicaid, obamacare, healthcare
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2015-40-21
Tuesday, 21 Apr 2015 12:40 PM
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