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05/11/2018

Corrections, Human Services Agreement Streamlines Medical Assistance Access for Reentrants

Harrisburg, PA – The Department of Corrections (DOC) has partnered with the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Pennsylvania Justice Network (JNET) to streamline the process for applying for medical assistance (MA) coverage for inmates returning to the community within the state.

“It’s important to recognize the fact that 90 percent of those who enter our gates leave one day,” said Corrections Secretary John Wetzel. “It is in the community’s best interest to have those that leave succeed. Ensuring they have access to medical and mental health benefits is essential to a successful transition back to the community.”

 

The DOC releases approximately 20,000 inmates annually, of whom a small subset (10 percent) qualify for medical assistance because of chronic medical or mental health diagnoses and/or substance use disorders. Despite the relatively small number of applications submitted, the MA application process has proven both labor intensive and time consuming.

 

Prior to March 19, the DOC applied for MA benefits via the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Application for Social Services (COMPASS) portal for those returning to the community. 

 

With implementation of the intra-agency data exchange, the process for applying for MA benefits was automated for all reentrants who consent to the application submission, regardless of health conditions or substance abuse history.

 

One specific group of reentrants for whom MA coverage will be extremely beneficial is those who have voluntarily enrolled in the Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) program. Medical Assistance is secured for these individuals to reduce the likelihood of relapse to abusing opioids upon release from incarceration. 

 

Ensuring reentrants are enrolled in Medicaid upon the day of release will assist with continuity of care for those with medical or mental health illnesses as well as those who struggle with addiction. Continuity of care is critical for this population as they assimilate back into the community. 

 

“One of DHS’ top priorities is to ensure all eligible Pennsylvanians have access to high-quality services, including health care,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “This partnership will ensure individuals reentering society have access to the treatment and services they need to lead healthy, productive lives as they return to society.”

 

The DOC will also share notification of newly-received inmates with DHS, which will prompt DHS to suspend any benefits upon incarceration, thus helping to reduce the potential for benefits fraud.

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Amy Worden (DOC) 717-728-4026; Colin Day (DHS) 717-425-7606

 

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