Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law Releases Policy Brief on Medicaid Access for Formerly and Currently Incarcerated Individuals
DURHAM, NC — Today the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law releases a new Policy Brief: Ensuring Access to Medicaid Before and After Incarceration: Key Policy Considerations in the Wake of Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina. On March 27, 2023, Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation to expand access to Medicaid, which will make an estimated 600,000 North Carolinians newly eligible for coverage, and this brief makes recommendations on how best to ensure Medicaid expansion accounts for the needs of formerly incarcerated individuals.
“Access to healthcare is crucial to the wellbeing of individuals returning to communities after incarceration, and Medicaid expansion offers a unique opportunity to ensure that more justice-impacted individuals have access to that care,” said the Wilson Center’s Behavioral Health Policy Analyst Megan Moore.
An estimated 50% of people in state prisons were uninsured at the time of their arrest, and incarcerated people are significantly more likely to experience behavioral health and chronic medical conditions. Healthcare access improves health outcomes and reduces mortality risk. Further, in other states where Medicaid has been expanded, evidence shows significant decreases in drug arrests, violent offense arrests, and low-level offense arrests.
The Wilson Center recommends that policy makers:
“While we know implementing expanded Medicaid will take many months, now is the time for strategizing and planning to make sure expansion is as smooth and impactful as possible. We hope that North Carolina government actors and policy makers will consider these recommendations to best ensure that all North Carolinians, including those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated, will have access to this critical healthcare,” said Wilson Center Policy Director Angie Weis Gammell.
Media contact: Jennifer Melton