Saturday, August 23, 2014

Healthcare at reentry helps prevent recidivism

This article from Medicine@Yale makes an argument Grits has posited before, particularly as it relates to mental health services: That expanding Medicaid - in particular providing care to indigent ex-cons and covering hospital costs for prisoners - would reduce both costs and recidivism while improving public safety. Inmates leaving prison "don’t know how to find health insurance or medical care. And many quickly wind up in emergency departments with overdoses or exacerbations of chronic diseases that were being treated in prison."
“Obamacare is key to reducing recidivism,” [Dr. Emily] Wang says. She adds, however, that the reverse is also true. Over one-fifth of people eligible for Medicaid under the ACA expansion are incarcerated, on probation, or on parole. Many are young and healthy, making them attractive to insurance companies looking to dilute their risk pools. Far from being burdensome, then, these individuals may strengthen the health care system—much as their involvement has made the TCN more effective.

“In order for the Affordable Care Act to work,” Wang says, “you have to get former prisoners involved.”
Speaking of the intersection between healthcare and reentry, a story on NPR this week lauded San Antonio's proactive approach to mental health, fielding specially trained officers to deal with the mentally ill and establishing an effective diversion program to keep them out of the system. The key was for stakeholders to chip in to
create the Restoration Center. It offers a 48-hour inpatient psychiatric unit; outpatient services for psychiatric and primary care; centers for drug or alcohol detox; a 90-day recovery program for substance abuse; plus housing for people with mental illnesses, and even job training.

More than 18,000 people pass through the Restoration Center each year, and officials say the coordinated approach has saved the city more than $10 million annually.

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