Efforts To Enroll Former Inmates in Health Coverage Hit Roadblocks
Administrative mistakes, an application backlog and other issues are hindering efforts in California to enroll former inmates in health insurance, HealthyCal reports (Woodall, HealthyCal, 7/3).
This year, California prisons have been working to help inmates register for Medi-Cal and other health care plans before they are released from prison. Most of the nearly 40,000 individuals paroled each year are eligible for low-cost or no-cost health care plans (California Healthline, 6/10).
Advocates say that increasing former inmates' access to doctors, mental health care and substance use treatment could help to keep them from returning to jail.
State and county computer issues and miscommunications have hindered advocates' efforts to enroll former inmates, according to HealthyCal. For example, many counties had inmates apply for Medi-Cal coverage before their release, but an automated system created to speed up the process experienced glitches that led to processing delays.
In addition, inmates who filed paper Medi-Cal applications experienced coverage delays because:
- Some applications were sent to the wrong counties; and
- Some counties did not know how to properly process the applications.
Meanwhile, there is a statewide backlog of hundreds of thousands of electronic Medi-Cal applications -- including some for inmates -- that still need to be processed.
Officials at Covered California and the state Department of Health Care Services said they are working on fixing computer glitches and lessening the Medi-Cal application backlog.
Health officials said they also are worried that the delays could result in former inmates introducing untreated Hepatitis C, HIV or tuberculosis back into communities, according to HealthyCal. They noted that access to primary care could help encourage such inmates to seek treatment (HealthyCal, 7/3).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.