CHA News Article

LAO Reviews Federal Funds Used for State Inmate Medical Care

The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) released a report this week on how effectively the state prison system is using federal funds for inmate medical care. The report finds that while the state has a process in place for obtaining federal funds for off-site inpatient health care services for eligible inmates, it has been unable to maximize the available funding. The Affordable Care Act and associated Low-Income Health Program (LIHP), created as part of the state’s “Bridge to Reform Waiver,” expanded the number of inmates eligible for Medi-Cal and increased the total amount of reimbursements the state can receive. According to the report, California has implemented a process for obtaining federal funding for certain inmate health care services, but the process has been hampered by procedural problems. The federal court-appointed receiver overseeing inmate medical care is required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the county to obtain the funds available through the LIHP, as counties are the only entities that can enroll inmates. The LAO report states the receiver has not been able to secure MOUs with 42 counties. Additional procedural problems limiting the effectiveness of the program are also identified in the report — Obtaining Federal Funds for Inmate Medical Care — A Status Report.  For more information, see the report at