States Have New Options to Improve the Health of People Leaving Jails and Prisons

Prepared for The Commonwealth Fund.

The health and safe transitions of incarcerated people have been a focus of work by Congress, the Biden administration and states. People leaving incarceration face elevated health risks, including disproportionately higher rates of chronic conditions (such as diabetes, hepatitis and hypertension), behavioral health diagnoses, and higher rates of overdose and suicide compared with people who have never been incarcerated. While many incarcerated individuals—who, because of systemic inequities in our criminal justice system, are more likely to be people of color—may qualify for Medicaid, inpatient hospital care was, until recently, the only service that could be covered under Medicaid while an individual was incarcerated, because of a federal provision known as the “inmate exclusion.”

Section 1115 Medicaid waivers can provide a path forward. On April 17, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance, outlining opportunities for states to use state and federal Medicaid funding to provide prerelease health care services to Medicaid-eligible individuals, with a focus on improving health at reentry into communities.

In a new blog post for The Commonwealth Fund, Manatt Health outlines how new Medicaid flexibility will allow states to use Medicaid funding to provide health care services to justice-involved people, supporting healthier and safer reentry into communities.

To read the full blog post click here.



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