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Medicaid Expansion and the Local Criminal Justice System
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Medicaid Expansion and the Local Criminal Justice System” (American Jails Nov/Dec 2011) By Michael DuBose, CEO, Community Oriented Correctional Health Services

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 includes provisions with a major potential impact on local jails:medicaid 1

"In 2014, cities, counties, and states will have an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the costs associated with individuals involved in the justice system—from jail bed use to emergency room admissions to medical care—while improving public safety and public health. Medicaid expansion under national health reform will extend the prospect of health care coverage to an estimated 16 million newly eligible individuals, including the substantial population of nonviolent offenders with mental illness or chemical addiction who cycle in and out of local jails."

This article explains how upcoming expansion of Medicaid to low-income Americans will make many more jail inmates eligible for coverage, helping to relieve the cost burden currently carried by local jails and public health systems. As coverage increases, people are less likely to use emergency rooms for care, are more likely to receive chemical dependency treatment, and are more likely to receive effective community-based mental health treatment - with significant public safety benefits and a net lower cost to taxpayers.

To be ready to take advantage of the new policy promptly when it goes into effect in 2014, jail administrators should begin planning now for this change by collaborating with their public health colleagues and raising issues, as appropriate, for state legislative attention.

For example, what might be the future role of jails in helping detainees enroll in the Medicaid program? These and other policy questions are outlined as a starting point for discussion.

Download the full article

Posted Tue, Jan 31 2012 12:34 PM by Susan Powell
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