More states are receiving approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to extend Medicaid benefits to people as they transition out of prison. The Washington Health Care Authority (HCA) is inviting the state’s carceral facilities to join the Reentry Demonstration Initiative, a new voluntary initiative under the Medicaid Transformation Project.

In January 2023, California became the first state in the nation to be approved to provide a set of pre-release healthcare services and improve access to care for people returning home from jails and prisons. In another example, Massachusetts’ MassHealth has received federal authority to cover a wide range of health services for eligible incarcerated individuals, including youth in Department of Youth Services (DYS) facilities, up to 90 days prior to release. 

The Washington State initiative provides essential pre-release services for individuals leaving incarceration, including care management, substance use disorder treatment and recovery support, and targeting infectious diseases. These services are now reimbursable through Medicaid, providing a significant opportunity for facilities to enhance the care provided to incarcerated individuals prior to their release, according to the HCA.

HCA received authorization to distribute up to $303 million in capacity-building funding to eligible carceral facilities.

“This national-leading effort will include essential services like treatment for people with opioid use disorder and hepatitis C,” said Jason McGill, assistant director of Medicaid programs at HCA, in a statement. “We are enthusiastic about the opportunity to enhance health outcomes for individuals reentering their community from a carceral setting. We greatly appreciate the partnership with city and county leaders and facilities across our state.”

Facilities eligible to participate include state prisons, city and county jails, Tribal jails, and youth correctional facilities. The first cohort—the first group of carceral facilities implementing the Reentry Initiative—will launch on July 1, 2025.

As the HCA explains, the initiative aims to:
• Improve health outcomes and reduce recidivism (re-offense), emergency department visits, overdoses, and death.
• Support care management and substance use disorder treatment and recovery and target infectious diseases like Hepatitis C before a person’s release.
• Stabilize and treat other conditions before a person’s release, so they can reenter their community as healthy as possible.



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