Connecting the Formerly Incarcerated to Comprehensive Primary Care


Before the Affordable Care Act, most people leaving prison or jail weren’t eligible for Medicaid, since coverage generally wasn’t available to childless adults. With Medicaid expansion taking hold in more and more states, however, these individuals are now often able to get health coverage upon their release.

With coverage as a foundation, states are now seeking to address the complex health and social issues many of these individuals face, including opioid addiction, mental illness, and barriers to stable housing and employment. In their new Commonwealth Fund report, experts with Manatt Health explore the latest developments in comprehensive primary care for adults leaving jail or prison and the role Medicaid can play in financing and supporting the most effective practices.

In a number of states, “in-reach” services are helping inmates establish relationships with providers prior to release, identifying health conditions, and setting up community-based care. Other states use peer-support specialists and offer specialized training for primary care providers who work with the formerly incarcerated. Best practices such as these, the authors say, can be included in state contracts with Medicaid managed care plans.

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