States Push for Innovative Ways to Improve Health Outcomes for Justice-Involved Individuals

Prepared for The Commonwealth Fund

Individuals leaving incarceration—mainly people of color—are particularly at risk for poor health outcomes. While many incarcerated people can qualify for Medicaid while they are in jail or prison, inpatient hospital care is the only service that can be covered by Medicaid for individuals considered an “inmate of a public institution” under federal law. People leaving jail or prison—often lacking a connection to community-based providers or a care plan—frequently experience gaps in care despite their high needs.

Recognizing the need for intervention, Congress passed the SUPPORT Act in 2018, which directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue guidance on how states can design Section 1115 demonstrations to provide services to justice-involved individuals before release to support their reentry. HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are working on guidance, which may be released to states soon.

In a blog post for The Commonwealth Fund, Manatt Health examines the growing momentum among states to develop innovative models to help people involved with the justice system receive health care services covered by Medicaid while they are incarcerated. By providing services before justice-involved individuals are released, including care management to plan for reentry, states are hoping they can improve health outcomes when individuals return to their communities.

To read the full blog post, click here.

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