Turner, Colleagues Act to Allow Medicaid to Cover Pretrial Detainees
I recently joined Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), Rep. David Trone (D-MD) and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) to introduce The Due Process Continuity of Care Act. This bipartisan legislation would amend the current Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP) to make certain that pretrial detainees are not kicked off Medicaid prior to ever being found guilty of a crime. Following introduction, we released the following statements:
“The Due Process Continuity of Care Act helps address the opioid misuse crisis by fixing an unconstitutional flaw in our Medicaid system. The current Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy perpetuates a dangerous cycle of treatment interruption and recidivism. I am proud to support this reform that provides pretrial inmates the medical treatment they need to recover from opioid abuse disorders,” I said.
“Seizing Medicaid coverage from pre-trial detainees, who experience higher rates of mental health and substance use disorders, is destabilizing and counterproductive,” said Congressman David Trone (D-MD-06). “Not only does this policy hurt these vulnerable populations, but it also disproportionately affects low-income folks who are unable to pay bonds. This bill would bridge those inequities and allow for a more humane, more just pre-trial health care system.”
“For the more than approximately 20% of inmates in our nation’s jails with mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD), treatment isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. However, current law prohibits incarcerated individuals from accessing federal health benefits when they are behind bars—even if they haven’t been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial,” said Congressman Emmer (R-MN-06). “This means that patients are forced to abandon existing routines of care, often having to begin new treatment regimens with new and frequently overburdened heath providers associated with the jails where they’re being held. Consistent and proper care for mental health and SUD is not only in line with the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment, it will also make our communities safer. It’s time we fixed this oversight and ensure these individuals have a chance to heal.”
“For years, I’ve worked to advance bipartisan legislation that expands access to addiction treatment and delivers needed support to our most vulnerable communities,” said Congressman Tonko (D-NY-20). “The Due Process Continuity of Care Act builds powerfully on this effort by ensuring that people not convicted of a crime retain lifesaving Medicaid coverage. I am proud to introduce this legislation that will reduce recidivism, protect due process, and save lives.”
Background: This bill amends the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to ensure that states have the option to provide Medicaid coverage for pre-trial detainees. Additionally, the bill provides $50 million in planning grant dollars for the HHS Secretary to award to states with the goal of providing additional support to state, county and local jails for implementing this policy, improving the quality of care provided in jails and enhancing the network of available providers to treat this population. U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced mirror legislation in the Senate last year. Full text of the bill can be found here.
If passed, The Due Process Continuity of Care Act will:
• Amend the MIEP to allow for Medicaid coverage of health care services for pre- trial detainees;
• Provide planning grant dollars to states for implementation of the MIEP repeal;
• Bring financial relief to state and local taxpayers for the cost of providing services to this population.