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State and local officials fight to keep Medicaid for inmates

row of jail cells
Angola prison in Louisiana. Photo: Giles Clarke/Getty Images

Some local and state officials want Medicaid to start picking up the tab for inmates' health care, Stateline reports.

How it works: Medicaid beneficiaries lose their coverage while they're incarcerated — including pretrial detention for people who can't make bail — and county governments are generally responsible for providing their care.

State and local officials want Medicaid to start paying those bills. A single seriously ill inmate — someone with HIV, for example — can quickly strain county budgets, they said.

Forty states have already changed their rules so that Medicaid coverage kicks back in more quickly once people are released from jail.

  • Delays in restoring coverage can hurt patients, and in some cases — for example, people who are being treated for certain mental-health issues — can make recidivism more likely.