Leveraging the affordable care act to enroll justice-involved populations in medicaid: State and local efforts

Sachini N. Bandara, Haiden A. Huskamp, Lauren E. Riedel, Emma E. McGinty, Daniel Webster, Robert E. Toone, Colleen L. Barry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The Affordable Care Act provides an unprecedented opportunity to enroll criminal justice-involved populations in health insurance, particularly Medicaid. As a result, many state and county corrections departments have launched programs that incorporate Medicaid enrollment in discharge planning. Our study characterizes the national landscape of programs enrolling criminal justice-involved populations in Medicaid as of January 2015. We provide an overview of sixty-four programs operating in jails, prisons, or community probation and parole systems that enroll individuals during detention, incarceration, and the release process. We describe the variation among the programs in terms of settings, personnel, timing of eligibility screening, and target populations. Seventy-seven percent of the programs are located in jails, and 56 percent use personnel from public health or social service agencies. We describe four practices that have facilitated the Medicaid enrollment process: suspending instead of terminating Medicaid benefits upon incarceration, presuming that an individual is eligible for Medicaid before the process is completed, allowing enrollment during incarceration, and accepting alternative forms of identification for enrollment. The criminal justice system is a complex one that requires a variety of approaches to enroll individuals in Medicaid. Future research should examine how these approaches influence health and criminal justice outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2044-2051
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Affairs
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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