(Chicago) – Modern Healthcare has published an article on best practices for Medicaid enrollment at jail intake, noting approaches which TASC has helped implement in Cook County and is sharing with other jurisdictions around the country.
Harris Meyer writes:
Like inmates throughout the country, most people entering the Louisville Metro Jail lack health insurance and many suffer from long-untreated chronic conditions.
At least partly as a result, some people, particularly those with serious mental illness and drug or alcohol addiction, keep getting re-arrested and returning to jail, increasing costs to taxpayers.
In Louisville, Kentucky, there are processes to sign up people for Medicaid at jail intake, as well as provide support at release for individuals with multiple needs who often cycle in and out of jail. The program is based on initiatives begun at Cook County Jail in Chicago.
In these locations and in a number of jurisdictions across the country, the aim is to increase the number of people who have Medicaid when they are released from jail, so as to improve their access to healthcare in the community and reduce their likelihood of recidivism.
…But there are tough challenges, including poor coordination between local jail authorities and state Medicaid agencies, lack of funding to hire enrollment assisters, and chaotic conditions during jail intake, said Maureen McDonnell of the Chicago-based not-for-profit Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities. In addition, there is sometimes political opposition to offering public health insurance to accused lawbreakers.
“Typically, these programs start with a motivated jail director, county commissioner or county behavioral health director who sees the writing on the wall about how many people have substance abuse and mental health conditions,” said McDonnell, who advises jail officials around the country in starting Medicaid enrollment programs. “The current national focus on mental health and substance abuse is helping a lot.”