Maintaining Medicaid Benefits for Jail Detainees with Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders
Federal law stipulates that the Federal portion of Medicaid funding must not be used to assist otherwise eligible participants while they are incarcerated. However, previously eligible individuals must be returned to the Medicaid rolls immediately upon release. Lane County, Oregon, has developed a program to ensure uninterrupted Medicaid service for the majority of eligible individuals involved in the local criminal justice system. Using funds provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Jail Diversion Knowledge Application Initiative, the county has researched, pilot-tested, and implemented a policy requiring Medicaid disenrollment only for individuals incarcerated for more than 15 days. The Lane County experience suggests that communities will have greater success addressing this issue if they understand the State’s interpretation of the law, its pertinent information management systems, and its policies related to suspension, disenrollment, and reestablishment of Medicaid benefits.
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