CHA News Article

HHS Releases Guidance on Improving Health Care Access for Justice-Involved Individuals

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released guidance for states on facilitating access to covered Medicaid services for eligible individuals prior to and after a stay in a correctional institution. As a result of changes states are adopting in their Medicaid programs, individuals in many states who were previously uninsured are now eligible for Medicaid coverage — including a significant number of justice-involved individuals. While the Medicaid statute limits payment for services for individuals while residing in correctional institutions, the guidance acknowledges that — as long-untreated, chronic health care conditions and a high incidence of substance use and mental health disorders are prevalent among incarcerated individuals — Medicaid coverage can be crucial to ensuring a successful transition following incarceration. 

In a State Health Official letter, HHS describes how states can better facilitate access to Medicaid services for individuals transitioning from incarceration to their communities, and includes a Q&A document addressing the definition of inmate, eligibility and enrollment, services covered under the exception to general coverage, and how states may promote enrollment to ensure continuity of care.