CSAC Bulletin Article

Joint Task Force to Study Inmate Health Care and Recidivism

March 14, 2019

The National Association of Counties (NACo) President and San Diego County Supervisor, Greg Cox, and The National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) Executive Director and CEO, Jonathan Thompson, recently announced the creation of a joint task force to examine the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MEIP). The task force will include NACo and NSA members representing county leaders, law enforcement, judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and behavioral health and veterans’ services departments, exploring the impacts of the national behavioral health crisis, the MIEP, and recidivism.

The MEIP is another barrier to health care access in California and throughout the nation. The policy excludes federal health and veterans’ benefits from individuals upon being admitted to jail, benefits these individuals would otherwise be eligible to. Research has shown the importance of the role of health care access within the justice system, particularly in light of the rates of incarceration for individuals diagnosed with mental health and substance use disorders. The task force will focus on providing recommendations and solutions to Congress and the Administration on decreasing recidivism and overall health outcomes of local jail inmates.

For a decade, CSAC has worked closely with NACo on inmate Medicaid issues, such as the MEIP, and is pleased to see California representation on this task force, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; San Diego County Director of Health and Human Services Agency, Nick Macchione; and San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon.

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