Magazine article American Jails

Understanding Affordable Care

Magazine article American Jails

Understanding Affordable Care

Article excerpt

Although only a few months into 2013, like many of you we are planning for next year. In 2014, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will provide a new option for health insurance coverage for millions of U.S. citizens. Has your facility started to plan? What does this legislation mean for those who work (and who are housed) in American jails?

There are already several excellent publications on the Internet that outline the challenges and issues jails will face as they attempt to understand and implement the legislation. Although the process will not be easy, the Affordable Care Act can potentially help those who are at risk for incarceration or who were previously incarcerated. In the long term, jails will also experience benefits.

It is not news that we have an increasing population of inmates with mental illness and substance abuse problems. By allowing States to expand the eligibility of Medicare, early treatment and prevention for mental health and addiction would become essential health care benefits. Therefore, those who suffer from mental illness or substance addictions can receive treatment before they enter the justice system, thus reducing their risk of incarceration.

Although local and State governments will be responsible for the costs of correctional health care, this will be balanced by the accessibility of health care. With more people having access to health care, jails may see a decline in health care problems. In addition, as more people enroll in health care, the opportunity for information sharing and continuity of care increases, and hopefully, decreases health care costs in jails.

Upon release or parole, nearly all inmates will qualify for Medicaid. …

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