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Programs would improve health care for inmates

Jul 11, 2023 1:03 am

Raga Justin reports in the Times Union that New York is not yet enrolled in a federal funding opportunity allowing states to expand health care coverage for inmates about to transition back into society. But that should change soon. California recently succeeding in petition to the federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to use funding from the federal government health care coverage for inmates, the first attempt by any state. New York Department of Health spokesperson Cadence Acquaviva said the agency is negotiating the final conditions of a larger expansion of Medicaid coverage with a $13.5 billion request for the federal government. “Providing targeted Medicaid services to incarcerated individuals prior to their release is part of the department’s strategy to address health disparities and improve health equity,” Acquaviva said in an emailed statement. Around 80 percent of people released from prison in the U.S. each year have a substance use problem or a chronic medical condition, including mental health issues. Gabrielle de la Guéronnière, a legal policy director with the Legal Action Center said, “There are tremendous unmet health needs that people have in incarceration, and that has an impact on people's lives. People are dying of overdose, people are dying by suicide.” In addition, Rep. Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat, is sponsoring the “Reentry Act” in Congress to shift costs away from local correctional facilities and increase health care for inmates. Tonko said, “So many state and local governments find that these systems of jails and prisons are under-invested.... This is about saving lives. And doing it with science and evidence-based opportunities.” Read more about this story in the Times Union.

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