June 23, 2016

Medicaid and Incarceration

In the past, many states terminated Medicaid coverage for enrollees who became incarcerated because (1) Medicaid generally covers only their inpatient care costs and (2) prior to Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act, many incarcerated individuals were not eligible for Medicaid at all.
Expanded Medicaid eligibility and recent guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have prompted some states, including Connecticut, to suspend, rather than terminate, Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals and make other efforts to connect those involved with the criminal justice system to Medicaid, as described in a recent Kaiser Family Foundation brief.
The brief describes Connecticut’s, Massachusetts’s, and Arizona’s initiatives. Its description of Connecticut’s efforts includes the following facts:
  • Connecticut only suspends the Medicaid status of an incarcerated individual after 60 days of custody to prevent disruptions in coverage for individuals who move in and out of incarceration over short time periods.
  • 2,300 people had a suspended Medicaid status as of April 2016.
  • Anyone sentenced to probation is screened for Medicaid, and, if needed, the probation officer initiates a Medicaid application.