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Tonko Heralds New Medicaid Program for Justice Involved Individuals

First-of-its-kind Medicaid waiver will save lives by easing transition for individuals exiting justice system

  • Rep. Paul Tonko

WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) today cheered last week’s announcement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to approve a first-of-its-kind demonstration project in California that will provide Medicaid services to people returning home from jails and prisons. Approval of this waiver was made possible through legislation Congressman Tonko authored and passed in 2018, that authorized CMS to conduct these demonstration projects.

Congressman Tonko is also the author and champion of the Medicaid Reentry Act, bipartisan legislation that would allow all states to provide pre-release care to Medicaid eligible individuals up to 30 days prior to release without a CMS waiver.

“Far too often, our justice system is a revolving door for people struggling with addiction and mental health issues, with the lack of effective treatment while incarcerated leading to individuals leaving jails and prisons being roughly 129 times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks after release,” Congressman Tonko said. This announcement from CMS is a gamechanger that will save lives, lower costs, and reduce recidivism—making it a win-win-win. By providing effective pre-release care, including care coordination, substance use and mental health treatment, we give people reentering their communities a fighting chance at a better life. I look forward to more states—including New York—submitting and receiving waiver approvals so we can save lives and provide hope to more communities.”

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