Grants states power to restart Medicaid services for incarcerated individuals 30 days before their release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) are leading the Senate introduction of the bipartisan Medicaid Reentry Act, legislation expanding access to addiction treatment and other health services for Medicaid-eligible individuals 30 days before their release from jail or prison. The bipartisan legislation is also being re-introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY-20) and Michael Turner (R-OH-10).
Currently, federal statute prohibits any form of federal health coverage for incarcerated individuals except under very limited circumstances. In most states, Medicaid coverage is immediately terminated when someone is sent to a correctional setting. This creates a serious coverage gap when individuals are released, as they often have no access to health care or addiction treatment during a stressful and dangerous time. This bill is a bipartisan response to this issue, following alarming evidence published in the New England Journal of Medicine that individuals reentering society are 129 times likelier than the general population to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks after release.
“The opioid and substance use disorder epidemic remains rampant in Wisconsin and across the country, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is dramatically impacting the addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery landscape in this country. This problem is harshly affecting incarcerated individuals who are working to reenter society, but currently lack the health care coverage they need to continue their recovery,” said Senator Baldwin. “We need to make sure these rehabilitated folks have Medicaid or other health care coverage needed to seamlessly transition back to community care, and reduce the risk of overdose deaths post-release. I’m proud to work with my Senate and House colleagues on this bipartisan reform to address our nation’s addiction crisis and support our continued fight against this deadly epidemic.”