Study Highlights Best Practices in Connecting Justice-Involved Populations to Medicaid

A new study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation documents the impacts of efforts in Arizona, Connecticut and Massachusetts to connect justice-involved populations to Medicaid. Authors find that two-thirds of the incarcerated population in Connecticut is enrolled in Medicaid upon release. Additionally, 84% of former prisoners in Massachusetts that had Medicaid coverage in the year after release access a healthcare service, nearly half of whom have a behavioral health visit. The study reviews policies in these states, such as suspending Medicaid eligibility for incarcerated individuals and automatically reactivating their coverage upon release, that help to ensure more smooth transitions in and out of incarceration. In addition, all three states enroll individuals in Medicaid if they require inpatient care while incarcerated. Massachusetts received more than $4.2 million in federal funds to offset the costs of inpatient care for incarcerated individuals provided at private hospitals. The study concludes that more research is needed to better assess the impact on criminal justice related outcomes, such as recidivism rates.

Louisiana: Medicaid Expansion Launched Including Through SNAP Fast-Track

Enrollment in Medicaid expansion launched as scheduled on June 1, for coverage starting July 1, including through a fast-track process to enroll SNAP (food stamp) recipients. CMS approved the State's request to enroll SNAP recipients through a streamlined process that does not require additional income verification, given that the income and verification requirements for Medicaid and SNAP are very similar. The State estimates that over 100,000 SNAP recipients will be enrolled through this streamlined process. Louisiana is the first State approved to use SNAP data for Medicaid enrollment through a Medicaid State Plan Amendment, while other states have received approval through time-limited Medicaid waivers. The SNAP income verification option will be available at initial enrollment and at renewal.

Washington: Medicaid Ordered to Provide Hepatitis C Drugs to All

A federal judge ordered the Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) to cover Hepatitis C medication regardless of the severity of an individual’s liver condition, concluding that limiting the drug violates federal law requiring enrollees have access to medically necessary treatment, reports The Puget Sound Journal. In February 2015, HCA began limiting coverage of the drug to those with severe conditions. Washington’s Medicaid director noted at the time that if the Health Care Authority were to pay for treatment for all Medicaid clients with Hepatitis C, the cost would be three times the program’s total pharmacy budget. The ruling comes in response to a class action lawsuit filed by Harvard Law School.