New law no longer terminates but suspends Medicaid coverage for inmates

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WENATCHEE- Starting this week the Washington State Healthcare Authority (HCA) will suspend- rather than terminate- Medicaid coverage for jail or prison inmates to better support their re-entry into the community.

Previously, convicted criminals had their Apple Health coverage terminated

Under the newly revised law, healthcare coverage is suspended, and once an individual is released from custody, full scope health coverage will be automatically reinstated.

HCA explains that the change provides continuity of care for individuals upon re-entry into the community.

Individuals in custody of the criminal justice system need seamless access to community treatment networks and health coverage, upon release from custody to prevent gaps in treatment and reduce barriers to accessing care.

Access to this care is critical to reducing repeat offenses and decreasing the costs of relapse, deteriorating mental health, and crisis care, according to the HCA.

The HCA says providing better transition services to justice-involved individuals is an important first step in improving their lives. Incarcerated individuals have disproportionately high rates of chronic health conditions, infectious disease, and behavioral health issues.

Providing effective, equitable and respectful care and services that are responsive to this unique population can help close the gap in healthcare outcomes, according to the HCA.