The Importantce of Enrolling Ex-Prisoners in Medicaid
We understand the challenges of treating populations while they are incarcerated. But what happens when they are released? Under the Affordable Care Act, prisoners may have an underutilized option for care. Although 19 states did not enact the Medicaid expansion of 2014, that still leaves a great number of released prisoners who may be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
In order to truly reduce recidivism, it is important to ensure the mental and medical care these populations need access to is available. Studies show that having medical coverage has been effective in reducing return trips to jail or prison. The steps to set up this care must be taken before a prisoner is released.
It is certainly preferable to former inmates using the ER for all their medical needs, from basic treatment to care for chronic conditions. Prison populations have higher rates of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C than the rest of the population; treatment for these conditions is costly. Access to medication and treatment helps the mentally ill and addicted cope with daily life, allowing them to be productive and potentially thrive in society. By taking care of our vulnerable released populations, we can improve society as a whole.