National Council for Mental Wellbeing

Skip to content National Council for Mental Wellbeing
Find a Provider
National Council for Mental Wellbeing logo
Your source for the latest updates from Capitol Hill. We translate policy into practice so you can learn how policy trends will affect your work and how best to prepare.

Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Healthcare Financing Strategies for Justice-Involved Individuals

January 8, 2014 | Justice | Comments
Share on LinkedIn

When an individual returns to the community after incarceration, disruptions in the continuity of medical care have been shown to increase rates of reincarceration and lead to poorer and more costly health outcomes. A newly released policy brief offers recommendations and examples of strategies for maximizing the appropriate use of Medicaid coverage for people involved with the criminal justice system.

The appropriate use of federal Medicaid dollars to help pay for health care provided to this population can save states and localities money, in addition to minimizing health and public safety concerns associated with reentry following incarceration. However, opportunities to maximize and maintain Medicaid enrollment for eligible individuals in this population, and especially to make use of Medicaid to finance certain types of care provided to those who are incarcerated, have been largely underutilized by states.

The policy brief, “Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System,” was released by the Council of State Governments in partnership with the Legal Action Center. It provides an overview of federal Medicaid law related to people involved with the criminal justice system, identifies policy options available to improve continuity of coverage while ensuring federal funds are spent appropriately, provides state examples of best practices; and offers recommendations for state and local governments. Support for the production of this brief was provided by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Among the policy and programmatic options presented in the brief are:

  • Maximizing the enrollment of Medicaid-eligible individuals by screening for eligibility and facilitating enrollment at all points in the criminal justice system;
  • Suspending rather than terminating Medicaid enrollment for inmates of correctional institutions;
  • Making effective use of available federal Medicaid dollars to finance certain inpatient medical care provided to Medicaid-eligible inmates;
  • Working with state health and insurance officials to ensure that Medicaid benefits are adequate to meet the needs of people involved with the criminal justice system, particularly with regard to mental health and substance use treatment.

Click here to read the full report.