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Affordable Care Act’s Expansion of Medicaid Brings Vital Healthcare to Millions of Inmates

Written by Cyrus Heravi


Prisons across the U.S. are signing up inmates for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, transferring a substantial amount of inmate healthcare costs to the federal government.


The Affordable Care Act is allowing states to extend Medicaid coverage to single and childless adults, a large part of the inmate population. This means that standard inmate care is still provided and paid for by the states, but hospital stays beyond 24 hours will be covered by Medicaid for signed up inmates.


But one of the biggest effects of millions of new inmates enrolled in Medicaid is that they will be covered after they get out. For inmates with health issues that require medication and monitoring, specifically the nearly 500,000 inmates with mental health issues, this means receiving much needed help. According to a recent New York Times article, 35 percent of people newly eligible for Medicaid are those with a history criminal justice involvement, including inmates as well as people on parole and probation.


Many corrections institutions across the U.S., such as Cook County in Chicago, are making signing up inmates for Medicaid as routine as fingerprinting and body scans. Inmates with the greatest health risks and medical history are at the front of the line.


One criticism of corrections institutions signing up inmates for Medicaid is that federal taxpayers will have to pick up the bill for hospital stays and treatment. On the other hand, more inmates with basic healthcare, especially upon release, could potentially reduce recidivism by up to 20 percent.


What do you think? Are corrections institutions taking unfair advantage of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, or can more inmates on Medicaid only mean less crowded facilities and safer communities? Let us know your thoughts!





Below are a few articles from the ABA, the New York Times and Bloomberg that outline these issues in more depth:

ABA Journal

NY Times


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Comments (1) -

  • Derek Cudder

    3/17/2014 3:34:20 PM | Reply

    Great post.  Hopefully this additional healthcare will help keep them out of jail in the future.