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Reentry Programs to Help Former Prisoners Obtain 国产精品视频 Care Are Often Underused

Reentry Programs to Help Former Prisoners Obtain 国产精品视频 Care Are Often Underused

Matthew Boyd was released from a Georgia state prison in December 2020 without the medicine he uses to manage chronic heart and lung conditions and high blood pressure, he says. The Biden administration has opened the door for Medicaid to cover care before an incarcerated person is released, to help them better manage their health and obtain care after release. (Dustin Chambers for KHN)

When Matthew Boyd was released from a Georgia state prison in December 2020, officials sent him home without medicines he uses to manage chronic heart and lung conditions and high blood pressure, he said.

Less than a month later, he spent eight days in an intensive care unit, the first of more than 40 hospital stays since. These days, he can barely get out of bed in his home south of Atlanta.

鈥淚t makes my life so miserable,鈥 said Boyd, 44, who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He told his story to KHN over email and text because he sometimes has trouble talking without losing his breath.

While Medicaid is generally prohibited from paying for the services people receive inside a prison or jail, the Biden administration for the federal program to cover care not long before a person is released, to help them better manage their health conditions during the transition. In February, to pay for substance abuse treatment in state jails and prisons. Congressional efforts to reactivate Medicaid before inmates鈥 release nationwide have so far failed.

And across much of the South, , reentry services that connect people like Boyd to health care resources are often minimal or nonexistent.

are released from state and federal prisons every year in the U.S. and the majority have health conditions. that people who are incarcerated have a constitutional right to adequate medical discharge planning before their release, including supplies of medication or prescriptions. But it鈥檚 far from clear whether states are required to do so.

In Georgia, correctional facilities are supposed to create that includes making medical appointments and supplying medications. Joan Heath, director of the public affairs office at the Georgia Department of Corrections, didn鈥檛 respond to questions about why the official policy wasn鈥檛 followed in Boyd鈥檚 case.

Despite official policies, people regularly leave prison or jail lacking medications, medical records, a provider appointment, or health insurance. About 84% of men and 92% of women who were incarcerated had a physical or mental health condition or substance use disorder, according to interviewed before and after their release from prison by the Urban Institute, a nonprofit that researches issues around equity.

Without timely care, formerly incarcerated patients are more likely to develop a health crisis and turn to costly emergency rooms. Or they experience a mental health episode or commit crimes related to substance use disorder that lands them back in prison or jail.

鈥淭here is no bridge,鈥 said , CEO of Diversity 国产精品视频 Center, a federally qualified health center in southeastern Georgia. By the time formerly incarcerated patients come to the center, their health conditions are uncontrolled and they have no medical records, she said. 鈥淲e have to start all over because we have no continuity of care,鈥 she said.

The United States has one of the . Conditions such as the use of solitary confinement, limited health care access, high stress, and poor-quality food can also create or exacerbate illness.

鈥淭his is the sickest population in the country,鈥 said , a University of Washington public health faculty member who previously worked for the state鈥檚 Department of Corrections. Stern co-authored one of the few studies on the topic. That 2007 study found people who were incarcerated were as other state residents 鈥 many deaths took place within the first two weeks of a person鈥檚 release.

In January, to obtain a partial waiver allowing incarcerated people to get services through Medicaid 90 days before release. are pursuing similar waivers. They argue that more seamless care will reduce deaths from overdose 鈥 the leading killer of people leaving prison 鈥 improve health outcomes, and save money by keeping patients out of the emergency room.

A photo shows a man and a woman sitting together on the couch. The two are petting a cat who is sitting in the woman's lap.
Matthew Boyd sits with his fianc茅e, Amanda Hollowood, who has helped care for him since he was released from prison in December 2020.(Dustin Chambers for KHN)

In Georgia, even basic discharge planning can be rare, said Craig Burnes, a certified peer-support specialist for incarcerated people. In 2014 he was released from state prison after a nearly 15-year stay with a $20 debit card that mistakenly hadn鈥檛 been activated, he said. Burnes, who has bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, and anxiety, said he found his own way to a safety-net foundation for mental illness treatment near his home in Dalton.

Most of the people Burnes works with have no idea how to access care. Often, they lack family support and stable housing, struggle with mental health or substance abuse issues, and lack the skills to navigate the bureaucracy that comes with reclaiming their life after prison.

鈥淚t鈥檚 a terrible circle that has no beginning,鈥 he said. Burnes regularly sends people to the emergency room so they can get medications and a referral to a free clinic.

Stephen McCary, 40, couldn鈥檛 find treatment for a heroin addiction after he was released from an Alabama prison in 2011.

In May 2019, an addiction recovery facility told him that funding to pay for his care was not immediately available. McCary, who also struggled with periodic homelessness, never followed up. He suffered an overdose, was re-arrested for a pharmacy theft, and is now serving another prison sentence.

鈥淣one of these crimes I would have committed if I had somewhere to go,鈥 he said in a phone call from Ventress Correctional Facility in Alabama.

Alabama has not expanded Medicaid, which could have helped McCary secure care after his release. found that when people are connected with primary care after incarceration they are less likely to be hospitalized or to be re-incarcerated, which can .

鈥淲e have to look at the big picture,鈥 said , who is a clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California-San Francisco and executive director of the Transitions Clinic Network, and worked on the studies. 鈥淚f we invest in Medicaid, we can save money in the prison system.鈥

Black people, who are more likely than the general population and , are disproportionately affected by the absence of post-incarceration health services.

One reason people fall through the cracks is because no one agency takes responsibility for the problem, said , a professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and director of the Program, which helps former inmates obtain health care. 国产精品视频 systems often don鈥檛 differentiate the needs of people who were imprisoned from others lacking insurance, he said. Justice systems don鈥檛 have budgets or a mandate to care for people once they leave custody. About 90% of patients in the program鈥檚 clinics lack insurance. North Carolina has not yet expanded Medicaid, though lawmakers recently struck a deal to do so.

A key piece of the new California waiver is the ability for providers to get reimbursed to coordinate care, which is especially important for people coming out of prison, Shavit said. 鈥淎ll of their basic needs are up in the air at once, and often health care takes a back seat,鈥 she said.

Medicaid expansion along with a program for enrolling patients in Medicaid just before release has helped people coming out of Louisiana鈥檚 , said , a Tulane University School of Medicine professor who founded a clinic serving formerly incarcerated people. Still, insurance coverage alone isn鈥檛 enough to compensate for the lack of care people receive while incarcerated, she said.

never got the results of a biopsy that took place just days before he was released from Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola in 2021 after 32 years of incarceration.

Hingle, 52, learned he had prostate cancer after calling the New Orleans hospital on his own to request the biopsy results. Even though he had Medicaid coverage, he had to wait several more months for insurance from his job to kick in before he could afford treatment and surgery to remove his prostate. Hingle, who works as an office assistant at Voice of the Experienced, a nonprofit that advocates for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, wonders how his life might have unfolded if he had been diagnosed sooner.

Without a prostate, 鈥渉aving children with my wife, that鈥檚 gone,鈥 he said.