Jail and prison inmates may soon qualify for Medicaid coverage because of a recent resolution called for by a local legislator.

State Representative Hank Vaupel of Fowlerville testified Tuesday afternoon before the House Judiciary Committee in support of his resolution allowing inmates Medicaid coverage. Federal policy currently prohibits the payment of federal Medicaid matching dollars for services provided to inmates, even if they were covered by Medicaid before becoming incarcerated. As a result of this, there is no continuity of care for inmates as they come in to the correctional system or when they transfer out. Vaupel said that with a majority of people in the jails and prisons having some sort of mental health or substance abuse problem they are struggling with, the odds of them getting and becoming healthy productive members of the community could improve greatly if they have access to consistent and reliable treatments.

This resolution was inspired by the many individuals Vaupel heard from during the 2017-18 statewide House C.A.R.E.S. mental health task force tour.

Judge Harvey Hoffman also testified in favor of the resolution on behalf of the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals. He said that when people go to jail and lose their Medicaid funding, it causes a lapse in their treatment and that they typically come out of jail worse than they went in. Vaupel urged Congress to rethink the policy, saying that current federal restrictions set up a pathway to recidivism because people with mental health issues are not often able to navigate the waters to get back on Medicaid after getting out of jail or prison. House Resolution 93 remains under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee. (MK)