Expedited Medicaid Access Increases Use of Mental Health Services, Unfortunately Did Not Reduce Recidivism for Those Recently Released from Prison – Kristin Huntoon

Providing expedited access to Medicaid to people with serious mental illness as they are released from prison increases their use of mental health and general medical services, but does not reduce criminal recidivism, according to new research published online today in Psychiatric Services in Advance.

People with serious mental illness depend on public-sector mental health services and are covered primarily by Medicaid. Most states suspend or terminate Medicaid for prison inmates. At any given point, an estimated 250,000 people with severe mental illness are in prisons, and more than a million others are on probation or parole in the U.S. Many have difficulty accessing mental health services and other services when they leave these institutions. Lack of health insurance can be a particular barrier to access.

The study used data from Washington state to look at whether enrolling people with severe mental illness in Medicaid before their release from prison increased their use of community mental health services and reduced rearrest and reincarceration rates. State and local programs that expedite Medicaid enrollment for people being released from jails and prisons have become more common in recent years as part of efforts to reduce soaring criminal justice costs.

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