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New Guidance from HHS Encourages States to Apply for Medicaid Reentry Waivers



The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) within HHS this week released new guidance that allows states to utilize Medicaid funds to provide health care services to incarcerated individuals, including substance use disorder treatment. The new Medicaid Reentry Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity would provide states with an additional opportunity to modify Medicaid programs to improve continuity, coordination, and access to care and health outcomes for people returning to communities.


The transition from prisons and jails back to the community is a critical time. Individuals reentering society from incarceration are 129 times more likely than the general population to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks after release. Providing medications to treat addiction during incarceration and continuation in the community can decrease overdose death by 75% and reduce recidivism rates by 32%.


“The Biden-Harris Administration has made expanding access to high-quality, affordable health care a top priority,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We are committed to ensuring all Americans have the peace of mind they deserve knowing they have access to life-saving health care, whether it is medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders or prescription medication to treat other chronic health conditions. Through this historic new effort, we are working to ensure that people who were formerly incarcerated can transition successfully back into the community with the health care supports and services they need. This is an essential step for advancing health equity in our nation and we encourage all states to take advantage of this new opportunity.”


Using Medicaid coverage to improve continuity of health care between carceral and community settings can help ensure that people have the resources they need to return to their communities healthy and whole.




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