We applaud Governor Cuomo, Assemblyman O’Donnell and the entire
Legislature for leading the way in this expansion of Medicaid coverage for
individuals who have been incarcerated. This will be a great step forward
in insuring Medicaid coverage for this population. This has long been an
important agenda item to MHANYS and we were pleased to work with the Legal
Action Center in NYC and NYAPRS (especially the tireless efforts of Harvey
Rosenthal) in advocating for this significant change. Now our advocacy is
focused on CMS to insure that the waiver is approved.

For Immediate Release: 4/29/2016


State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor


New York is First in the Nation to Request Federal Approval to Provide
High-Need Individuals with Medicaid Coverage 30 Days Prior to Release to
Avoid Relapse & Recidivism

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State will seek
federal approval to provide Medicaid coverage to incarcerated individuals
with serious behavioral and physical health conditions prior to release.
The program would ensure a smooth transition back into society for
thousands of formerly incarcerated individuals and help reduce the rate of
relapse and recidivism in communities across the state. The Medicaid
coverage would apply to certain medical, pharmaceutical and home health
care coordination services.

“We know that many people leaving our jails and prisons have serious mental
health and substance use problems,” Governor Cuomo said. “It makes little
sense to send them back into the community with our fingers crossed that
they will be able to find the help they need. This initiative bridges the
gap, providing essential transitional health services while also ensuring a
smooth re-entry period and increasing public safety in communities

Today, a critical gap exists between medical care for individuals in jail
or prison, and health coverage for individuals leaving incarceration. While
in prison, medical care is provided through the correctional facility, and
upon release, many inmates are left without any health coverage at all. New
York seeks to be the first state in the nation to create a coordinated
continuum of care to ensure individuals have access to the health coverage
they need from release through re-entry.

The State Department of Health has engaged with the federal government and
is in the process of finalizing a waiver request with the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services. If the request is granted, the state would
use Medicaid funding to pay for essential coordination and services in the
30 days before release.

The program would aid thousands of individuals who are dependent on
critical support services – including mental health and prescription
addiction medications – to ensure Medicaid coverage is accessible upon
release and carried with them into the community. The initiative will also
help to avoid expensive acute care interventions in emergency rooms, drug
overdose and relapse incidents, and higher rates of recidivism.

The state expects to see cost savings in future years, as the coverage will
ensure greater continuity of care and less emergency admissions due to
relapses in chronic conditions. The primary purpose of the waiver, however,
remains to better connect these individuals to the outside healthcare
system and prevent any unforeseen barriers that may otherwise impede their
access to health coverage both in the short and long term.

In 2015, the Governor’s Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration
recommended expanding health care coverage for formerly incarcerated
individuals as part of a series of best practices identified by the
workgroup. The authority for this initiative was also included in the FY
2016-17 State Budget, and builds on federal and New York State efforts to
reduce rates of incarceration and recidivism, combat the opioid epidemic
and other substance use disorders, and improve community-based mental
health care.

Nick Turner, president of the Vera Institute of Justice, said, “This is a
visionary proposal and is long overdue. It will provide essential funding
for improving the health of people leaving correctional facilities and
ensuring that they receive the care and services that they need when they
return to their communities. If approved, New York’s leadership will be
viewed as a historical policy change for advancing health equity.”

Joel Copperman, CEO of CASES, said, “I support New York’s request, which
would create a funding mechanism to create a continuum of services that are
critical for ensuring a smooth re-entry, especially for people with
behavioral health issues. Our ability to provide services is seriously
impeded if we are waiting for health care coverage to turn on after
release. Having Medicaid in place and active right before release would be
a game-changing practice.”

Ann Jacobs, director of the Prisoner Re-entry Institute at John Jay
College, said, “Providing health care seamlessly from prison or jail to
the community is a best practice in prisoner re-entry. New York’s request
to make Medicaid active directly before release, if granted, would ensure
that this best practice becomes standard practice, and would serve as a
model for the rest of the country.”

Numerous federal and state studies have shown that formerly incarcerated
individuals are more susceptible to drug overdose and hospitalization than
other residents statewide. In fact, one in 70 formerly incarcerated
individuals are hospitalized within a week of release from prison or jail,
and one in 12 are hospitalized within 90 days. Sadly, many former inmates
do not even survive re-entry. For example, a Washington State study found
that the overall risk of death among former prisoners was 12.7 times the
risk of death among other state residents during the first two weeks
immediately following release. The risk of death from drug overdose during
the first two weeks after release was 129 times that of other state
residents. (For more information, click here or here ).

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “For inmates
with serious physical and behavioral health conditions, the transition into
the community can cause a lapse in health care with potentially devastating
and costly consequences. By providing them with Medicaid coverage before
they leave the jail or prison, they’ll be able to get the medical care they
need as soon as they re-enter the community.”

DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, “I applaud Governor
Cuomo for taking the initiative to seek much-needed funds for some of New
York’s most vulnerable populations. The Governor’s vision allows for those
leaving prisons to get the sought-after help they need, which will
ultimately help them transition back into society and open up the door to
start a new life on the right foot.”


Additional news available at www.governor.ny.gov
New York State | Executive Chamber |press.office@exec.ny.gov | 518.474.8418


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