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Kuster, Booker, Fitzpatrick Reintroduce Bipartisan Legislation To End Outdated Medicaid Exclusion Policy

**Kuster has advocated for rescinding the federal policy that strips justice-involved individuals of their Medicaid coverage, passing the cost on to local communities and the justice system**

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced legislation to end the outdated Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP), which strips justice-involved individuals of their Medicaid coverage, passing the cost on to counties and states. The Humane Correctional Health Care Act would help disrupt the cycle of recidivism in our justice system and provide continuity of care for justice-involved individuals serving in public institutions. Senator Cory Booker leads this legislation in the Senate.


Full bill text is available here.


“For decades, the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy has fed into the cycle of addiction and incarceration we see across our country and created a massive financial burden for local communities,” said Congresswoman Kuster, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “We must improve this destructive policy and try to end the cycle of recidivism by helping justice-involved individuals receive the treatment and care they need. I am proud to reintroduce legislation to help people reenter their communities, and I urge my colleagues to join us in getting this done.”


“Denying Medicaid and CHIP coverage to people at a time when many of them are in dire need of health care coverage, including treatment for mental health and substance use disorders, defies common sense,” said Senator Booker. “The Medicaid Inmate Exclusion not only worsens health outcomes, but also increases the likelihood of recidivism and drug overdoses. We can help put an end to this cruel cycle that continues to harm families and communities by ensuring that more people receive the help they need to successfully reintegrate into their communities. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in reintroducing this bill that would end this outdated policy and increase access to Medicaid and life-saving care and treatment for those incarcerated.”


“Mental health and substance use disorder challenges affect millions of Americans, including those in our criminal justice system,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force. “The Humane Correctional Health Care Act will ensure that struggling Americans who are transitioning back into society have adequate access to mental health resources.”


“Ending the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion policy will help our justice system better operate and ensure continuity of care,” said Doug Iosue, Superintendent of Cheshire County Department of Corrections. “We are seeing a higher percentage of people come to us with complex medical needs, and without Medicaid coverage, the cost of this care falls to the justice system to cover and absorb. That is not a sustainable model and creates an incredible burden. I thank Congresswoman Kuster for introducing the Humane Correctional Health Care Act to finally close this gap in our justice system, lessen the burden on local communities, and allow us to provide a higher level of medical care when needed.”


This legislation is endorsed by a diverse coalition, including the American Society for Addiction Medicine, Boston Medical Center Health System, Community Oriented Correctional Health Services, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Partnership to End Addiction.


This legislation is also cosponsored by Reps. Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-AL), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), David Trone (D-MD), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Adam Smith (D-WA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Becca Balint (D-VT), Jim McGovern (D-MA). 



Established in 1965 under the Social Security Act, the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy prohibits Medicaid from covering people who are incarcerated or awaiting trial, regardless of prior eligibility.


Failing to provide health coverage to justice-involved individuals worsens long-term health outcomes and heightens their risks for severe illness and injury upon release. Individuals reentering their communities are more than ten times as likely to experience a drug overdose than the general population. Allowing Medicaid to pay for services such as medication-assisted treatment in justice settings can help end the substance use disorder crisis and lower the risk of an overdose. It will likewise ease the financial burden on states and localities that currently have to shoulder the costs.