Health Care Out from Behind Bars: Meeting Reentering Prisoners’ Needs Efficiently

December 11, 2015

Research shows that approximately 40 percent of former federal prisoners and over 60 percent of former state prisoners are rearrested within three years of release and many are re-incarcerated. Individuals transitioning into and out of the criminal justice system include many low-income adults with significant physical and mental health needs. Through outreach and education, correctional facilities are increasingly playing a key role in connecting eligible individuals to health care coverage and other social supports to facilitate their reintegration into the community. The Medicaid coverage expansion is also providing new opportunities to increase health care access to this particular population and potentially improving health outcomes, while bringing down costs. This briefing, the last in our “Medicaid: Beyond the Silos” series, built on last year’s correctional health briefing, with an added focus on reentry programs, and further explored the intersection of health policy and the criminal justice system.

If you were unable to attend the briefing, here are some key takeaways:
Matt McKillop, research officer, The PEW Charitable Trusts
Inmates tend to suffer from higher rates of mental illness and chronic conditions compared to the general population, Matt McKillop stated. Some states have started taking action to preserve the continuity of care following release. For example, in 2008 Massachusetts began enrolling inmates into Medicaid six months prior to their release, leading to a near 100 percent enrollment rate for eligible inmates, he continued.

Kara Miller, section chief of care management and performance improvement, Ohio Department of Medicaid
In Ohio’s pre-release program, the process of enrolling an inmate begins three months prior to his or her release, Kara Miller said. Selected inmates act as Medicaid navigators and guides to assist in the enrollment process along with health plan care managers, who develop a transition plan for those with serious medical conditions. As a result of this program, including January 2016 enrollments, 1,900 individuals will be enrolled in a Medicaid managed care plan, she added.

Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez, vice president of workforce development, National Urban League
The National Urban League has developed an urban reentry program that focuses on providing substance abuse, mental health and family counseling to adults entering work release programs, Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez said. In the first two years after its implementation in 2011, the recidivism rate for inmates involved in the program was 4 percent. Since 2013, the rate for the program has risen to 8 percent, although that is still well below the national average of 50 percent, she said.

Ed Howard of the Alliance for Health Reform moderated the panel discussion.

Follow the Briefing on Twitter: #Reentry

Contact: Beeta Rasouli 202-789-2300

The event was organized by the nonpartisan Alliance for Health Reform with support from the Centene Corporation.


Full Transcript (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Speaker Presentations

Matt McKillop Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Kara Miller Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Saroya Friedman-Gonzalez Presentation (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Details

Agenda (Adobe Acrobat PDF)
Speaker Biographies (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Event Resources