California Aims To Treat Former Prison Inmates Via Medi-Cal Expansion
Former California prison inmates -- who often leave prisons with no place to receive consistent health care --Â are among those whoÂ are benefiting from the state's Medi-Cal expansion, NPR's "Morning Edition" reports. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
The plan to expand Medi-Cal comes three years ahead of a federal Medicaid expansion mandated by the health reform law.
Few clinics in California provide medical care to former inmates, who typically have been excluded from public insurance programs.
Former inmates often have higher rates of many chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure.
Details of the Expansion
Many former inmates now are gaining coverage under the expansion of Medi-Cal, which covers:
- Mental health care;
- Prescription medication;
- Preventive care;
- Substance use treatment; and
- Visits to specialists.
Under the expansion, individuals also are beingÂ asked to choose one place to receive basic health care.
The effort to provide medical services to former inmates comes as California works to comply with a court order to reduce its state prison population.
Some observers have said providing health coverage for former inmates will further burden Medi-Cal, whileÂ others have argued that extending coverage is a key component of public health.
Emily Wang of the Yale School of Medicine said many former inmates return home with communicable diseases and major mental health conditions.
She said, "Treating substance abuse, HIV, hepatitis C will reduce the disease rates in our communities" (Varney, "Morning Edition," NPR, 9/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.