Medicaid Reentry Act

On February 10, with bipartisan support, the Medicaid Reentry Act was introduced in the Senate. This bipartisan legislation is also being re-introduced in the House. The bill would allow Medicaid to cover health services in the last thirty days before an individual is released from prison or jail and is critical for stopping the spread of COVID in correctional facilities and the community.

Under current law, Medicaid does not cover health services when people are incarcerated. People who are incarcerated are considered “inmates of a public institution” and barred from receiving Medicaid benefits, even though most detained individuals are Medicaid eligible. This policy creates gaps that prevent people from accessing needed services and medications at release, including access to COVID-19 testing and treatment as people transition back to communities.

COCHS has prepared two fact sheets describing the impact of the Medicaid Reentry Act on health care and criminal justice and how this legislation would advance access to health care needed to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Both fact sheets are available below:

Letters Supporting The Medicaid Reentry Act From National Organizations

On August 10, 2020, the National Sheriff's Association (NSA), the National Association of Counties (NACo), and the Major County Sheriffs of Americas (MCSA) sent a letter to congressional leaders in support of the Medicaid Reentry Act. On August 14, 2020, 125 national organizations sent a similar letter to congressional leaders. Both letters are available below:

New Publication: COCHS Profiles Ohio's Medicaid Reentry Program

The Medicaid Reentry Act can help state and local governments develop stronger approaches to treatment for substance use disorder and mental health. To illustrate the potential of strengthening Medicaid’s role at reentry, COCHS profiles Ohio’s Medicaid reentry program. Ohio has been a national leader in connecting people leaving incarceration to health care services. A 2018 evaluation of its program found high rates of connection to behavioral and physical health services, and program participants reported that the program made it less likely that they would return to prison or jail. Read the profile: How Strengthening Health Care at Reentry Can Address Behavioral Health and Public Safety: Ohio’s Reentry Program.

Scripps National News Interviews Vikki Wachino About The Medicaid Reentry Act & Correctional Health Coordinators
In a Scripps National News report about the spike of COVID-19 cases within corrections, Vikki Wachino discusses how relief legislation moving through Congress needs to address COVID-19 in prisons and jails. She describes how the Medicaid Reentry Act would allow Medicaid to cover incarcerated people 30 days before release, improving public health and safety. Vikki also touched upon the potential impact of COCHS' proposal for Correctional Health Coordinators to improve the COVID-19 emergency response in prisons and jails.
Vikki Wachino's Letter Supporting The Medicaid Reentry Act

On June 15, COCHS CEO, Vikki Wachino, sent a letter to our partners and friends stressing that the Medicaid Reentry Act would strengthen Medicaid’s role and allow it to support reentry services as an essential component of an overall public health strategy to reduce transmission of the coronavirus and mitigate potential future COVID-19 surges. Vikki's letter is available below: