Tonko Introduces Bill Giving States Flexibility to

NYAPRS Note: Over the past decade, criminal justice reforms have been among NYAPRS' top state and national policy priorities, leading to over $5 million for Crisis Intervention Teams and an expansion of prison rehabilitation programming and substantive restrictions on the use of solitary confinement. Last year, we helped secure authorization for a state waiver request to start Medicaid 30 days before prison/jail release, a request NY pulled back to examine the new federal Medicaid environment.

Over the past year, we've brought this issue to NYS Congressman Paul Tonko, who released today a bill that would allow provide legislative approval for states to restart Medicaid for eligible groups which include both individuals with extensive substance use and mental health conditions.

Tonko Introduces Legislation to Prevent Overdose Deaths,
Improve Care Transitions for Individuals Reentering Community

Medicaid Reentry Act Enables States To Restart Medicaid Coverage
For Eligible Incarcerated Individuals 30 Days Pre-Release

ALBANY, NY - Last week, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced H.R. 4005, the Medicaid Reentry Act, a bill that would provide states with the flexibility to restart Medicaid coverage for eligible incarcerated individuals up to 30 days prior to their release.

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY): "More Americans died of an overdose last year than were lost at the peak of the HIV/AIDS crisis. This is a national emergency that demands immediate action. As we continue to fight the spread or our nation's deadly opioid epidemic, expanding Medicaid access to individuals preparing to transition back from incarceration to civilian life is more than a practical and overdue step. It will save lives and help countless families and communities come back from the brink and begin to heal in earnest."

Recent research indicates that individuals who are released back into the community post-incarceration are roughly eight times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks post-release compared to other times. The risk of overdose is elevated during this period due to reduced physiological tolerance for opioids among the incarcerated population, a lack of effective addiction treatment options while incarcerated and poor care transitions back into the community. Allowing states to restart Medicaid benefits prior to release will dovetail with innovative reentry programs already being implemented in communities across the country and would give individuals reentering society a fighting chance to live a healthier, drug-free life.