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