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Wisconsin changes policy to suspend, not terminate Medicaid for inmates

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Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 12:50 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Wisconsin Department of Services says beginning Oct. 24, Medicaid members that are incarcerated will have their health care benefits suspended and then re-evaluated before they are released from jail or prison.

Previously, Medicaid members who became incarcerated had their coverage terminated, which then often delayed their access to medical and behavioral health care following their release. DHS and the Department of Corrections say they’ve been working to make the policy change.

“This new policy will increase the likelihood of successful re-entry for Wisconsin residents into their communities,” stated DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “Connecting incarcerated individuals to health care and other support services upon their release is critical to breaking the cycles of chronic homelessness, reliance on emergency care, and re-arrest.”

According to a news release citing the Kaiser Family Foundation, incarcerated individuals are more likely to have chronic physical and mental health conditions, serious mental illnesses, or substance use disorders. In the two weeks after their release, adults leaving jail or prison face a mortality rate that is 12.7 times higher than the rest of the adult population.

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