Tonko: Bipartisan Federal Medicaid Reentry Act Introduced, NYS Waiver Application Coming

NYAPRS Note: Representatives Paul Tonko (NY-20) and Michael Turner (OH-10) introduced bipartisan legislation empowering states to expand access to treatment through Medicaid for individuals up to 30 days before their release from jail or prison. See the release below and the following clarifications:  the bill is not exclusive to addiction treatment and would lift the current Medicaid inmate payment restriction for ALL services provided in the 30-days prior to release and it would allow states to provide Medicaid services in the 30-day pre-release period by right, rather than by having to go through a waiver process.

On a local front, New York is in the midst of redrafting our waiver application requesting federal approval to provide Medicaid services 30 days before prison and jail release for incarcerated individuals who are eligible for New York’s Health Home program (i.e., they have two or more chronic physical/behavioral health conditions, serious mental illness [SMI} or HIV/AIDS.) Coverage for these services is being requested for persons incarcerated and sentenced in both county and State facilities.

NYAPRS has been a strong supporter of both initiatives: stay tuned for more details!

Tonko, Turner Reintroduce Bipartisan Addiction Treatment Bill

Grants states power to re-start Medicaid services for inmates 30 days before their release

WASHINGTON – Representatives Paul Tonko (NY-20) and Michael Turner (OH-10) have formally introduced bipartisan legislation empowering states to expand access to addiction treatment through Medicaid for individuals up to 30 days before their release from jail or prison. The bill, H.R. 1329: the Medicaid Reentry Act, responds to alarming evidence that individuals reentering society after incarceration are 129 times more likely than the general population to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks post-release.

“Solving America’s growing opioid crisis requires that we take bold steps to treat addiction where we find it,” said Tonko. “Empowering states to deliver needed addiction treatment to individuals as they transition out of the criminal justice system not only helps combat the spread of this painful disease, it also makes our communities safer, saves money over the long term, and delivers vital services to a truly vulnerable group of people and families, many of whom have lost dearly at the hands of this disease. I am profoundly grateful to my colleague Michael Turner and our colleagues from both parties who have been steadfast in supporting this lifesaving legislation, and I look forward to working with them to advance it through the House.”

“When people are incarcerated, they lose access to substance abuse treatment because they become Medicaid ineligible,” said Turner. “Providing substance abuse treatment is imperative to overall rehabilitation of any individual and can help prevent both relapse and overdose after exiting prison or jail. I am proud to re-introduce this bill to assist inmates transition back into society successfully as drug-free individuals.”

The Medicaid Reentry Act is supported by: American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Council for Behavioral Health, Treatment Advocacy Center, National Association of Counties, Treatment Communities of America, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Alliance to Advance Adolescent Health, A New PATH, Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, American Psychiatric Association, The Kennedy Forum, Young People in Recovery, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Clinical Social Work Association, HIV Medicine Association, Mental Health America, New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, Shatterproof, American Psychological Association, Student Coalition on Addiction, National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists, Central City Concern

A previous version of this bill sponsored by Reps. Tonko and Turner was signed into law as part of H.R. 6 during the 115th Congress. That bill directed the Department of Health and Human Services to issue guidance to states interested in exploring a policy of this kind in their Medicaid programs, as well as to convene a stakeholder group charged with developing best practices for how state Medicaid programs can improve care transitions for incarcerated individuals.


Medicaid Reentry Fact Sheet