WASHINGTON, DC—Representatives Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), Mike Turner (R-OH), John Rutherford (R-FL), and David Trone (D-MD) today introduced the Reentry Act, bipartisan legislation that empowers states to restore access to healthcare, including addiction and mental health treatment, through Medicaid for incarcerated individuals up to 30 days before their release. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Mike Braun (R-IN) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.
Their bill addresses alarming data showing that individuals released from incarceration are 129 times more likely to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks after release.
“Communities across the nation are grappling with the devastating, and worsening impacts of the overdose crisis, and for individuals returning home from incarceration, the dangers of this epidemic are exponentially greater,” Congressman Tonko said. “By restarting benefits for Medicaid-eligible Americans prior to release, the bipartisan Reentry Act takes swift, needed action to combat the disease of addiction and bring targeted treatment to the people who face the most immediate risk. In short, our bill will save lives, lower costs, and reduce recidivism. I urge Congress to join us in advancing the Reentry Act without delay to combat the disease of addiction and provide hope to our communities.”
“Recidivism and rates of overdose are disproportionately high among those who have recently been released from prison. The Reentry Act permits eligible incarcerated persons to begin receiving Medicaid benefits 30 days prior to their release from prison so that they can begin treatment for substance abuse during an especially vulnerable period. I am proud to introduce this important bipartisan legislation that will save lives by helping communities in Ohio and across the country combat the opioid epidemic,” said Rep. Mike Turner.
“Continuity of care for those leaving the prison system has been an ongoing focus of mine. Throughout my time in law enforcement I saw many individuals reoffend time and time again as they struggled to break the cycle of substance abuse,” said Congressman Rutherford. “I’m proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in creating a pathway for individuals who are released from prison to receive the mental health and addiction support they need. This legislation is smart on crime, saves lives, and reduces recidivism.”
"As the co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, I'm proud to be joining Representatives Tonko, Turner, and Rutherford in introducing the Reentry Act as our first task force bill," said Congressman David Trone. "Studies show that incarcerated individuals suffer from a mental health condition or a substance use disorder at very high rates. If we want these folks to have the best chance of successfully reentering society, we must ensure they have access to basic needs like health care. The Reentry Act sets returning citizens up for success and saves lives."
Original Cosponsors include Reps. Underwood, Fitzpatrick, Blunt Rochester, Bacon, Schakowsky, Dave Joyce, Kuster, Curtis, Veasey, Armstrong
As co-chair of the Addiction, Treatment, and Recovery Caucus, Tonko has long spearheaded federal efforts to address the overdose epidemic and expand addiction treatment. Last Congress, his Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act that opened the doors of access to the proven addiction treatment, buprenorphine, was signed into law following a yearslong push from Tonko.
The Reentry Act has garnered the support of more than 60 organizations, including: AAPA; The American Association of Psychiatric Pharmacists (AAPP); American Bar Association; American Counseling Association; American jail Association; American Society of Addiction Medicine; Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness; Community Catalyst; Community Oriented Correctional Health Services; Drug Policy Alliance; Faces & Voices of Recovery; HIV Alliance; Legal Action Center; Major County Sheriffs of America; NASTAD; National Alliance on Mental Illness; National Association for Behavioral Healthcare; National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; National Health Care for the Homeless Council; National Sheriffs’ Association; Overdose Prevention Initiative at the Global Health Advocacy Incubator; Shatterproof: Stronger Than Addiction; The Kennedy Forum; The Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.; and Treatment Communities of America
The Reentry Act:
- Restarts benefits for Medicaid-eligible incarcerated individuals 30 days pre-release
- Makes it easier for states to provide effective addiction treatment and services, allowing for smoother transitions to community care and a reduced risk of overdose deaths post-release
- Does not change WHO is eligible for Medicaid or CHIP coverage, just ensures a warm handoff back for those already eligible.
A fact-sheet of the bill is attached HERE.
Statements of support and a full list of supporting organizations is attached HERE.