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Medicaid and Financing Health Care for Individuals Involved with the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2013
30 pages
This overview of Federal Medicaid law related to people involved with the criminal justice system, identifies policy options available to improve continuity of coverage and provides State examples of best practices.
This brief examines the appropriate use of Federal Medicaid dollars to help expand health care coverage for individuals involved with the criminal justice system; doing so, presents an opportunity to achieve reductions in State and local spending, while minimizing known health and public safety concerns associated with reentry following incarceration. Opportunities to maximize and maintain Medicaid enrollment for eligible individuals in the criminal justice 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. When an individual returns to the community after incarceration, disruptions in the continuity of medical care have been shown to increase rates of re-incarceration and lead to poorer and more costly health outcomes. This brief provides an overview of opportunities to expand health care coverage, access, and continuance of coverage; to improve public health and safety outcomes for individuals involved with the criminal justice system; and to reduce State and local expenditures on corrections and health care. Also provided are recommendations and examples of strategies for maximizing the appropriate use of Medicaid coverage for people involved with the criminal justice system. Endnotes and appendix