Press Releases

Kuster Renews Calls to Expand Medicaid Access for Justice-Involved Individuals

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) participated in an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing titled “Legislative Proposals to Increase Medicaid Access and Improve Program Integrity.” During her remarks, Kuster urged her colleagues to support her bipartisan Rehabilitation and Recovery During Incarceration Act. The legislation would reform the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion policy, which bars coverage of all health care services for incarcerated individuals, including mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

“The evidence is clear: failure to provide medical coverage, especially mental health and substance use disorder services, to incarcerated individuals leads to worse health outcomes and increases the risk of serious illness, injury, and recidivism,” said Kuster. “Here in New Hampshire, more than 50% of justice-involved individuals struggle with an opioid use disorder. It’s critical we expand access to treatment and recovery services and give justice-involved individuals the support they need to heal, recover, and successfully reenter their communities upon release.”

The Medicaid Inmate Exclusion policy leads to states and localities shouldering the financial costs of providing health care to incarcerated individuals, which can average $5,720 per inmate. Allowing Medicaid to pay for services, including substance use disorder treatment, would improve health outcomes and lower costs for states and communities. The Rehabilitation and Recovery During Incarceration Act would:

  • Permit states to allow Medicaid and CHIP to cover mental health and substance use services for eligible inmates;
  • Provide a 100% federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) to states who choose this option;
  • Require states to reinvest additional funds in technology and data sharing between State Medicaid programs, jails and prisons, community-based providers, and organizations; and
  • Mandate a report from the Comptroller General on the impact of the coverage option.

Kuster is the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Task Force, a group of over 140 Democratic and Republican lawmakers focused on bridging the partisan divide to tackle the mental health and substance use disorder crises, stopping the flow of these dangerous drugs into our communities, expanding access to treatment and care, and helping save lives.