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Tonko Cheers New Federal Demonstration Program that will Improve Addiction Care in Reentry

States encouraged to utilize health transitions including addiction and mental health care for justice involved individuals reentering communities under Tonko-authored provision

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WASHINGTON, DC—Congressman Paul D. Tonko hailed new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announcing the Medicaid Reentry Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity that would provide Medicaid services to justice-involved individuals returning to their communities. Tonko authored and championed legislation that authorized CMS to conduct these state demonstration projects, which was signed into law in 2018.

Tonko is also the author of the recently reintroduced, bipartisan Reentry Act, legislation that would codify and expand this effort by allowing all states to provide pre-release care to Medicaid eligible individuals up to 30 days prior to release without a CMS waiver.

“Too often, our justice system is a revolving door for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues,” Congressman Tonko said. “Lack of effective treatment upon release compounds that problem, leading to the horrifying statistic that individuals leaving jails and prisons are roughly 129 times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks after release. CMS’s announcement ensures that those struggling can get the care they need.”

Tonko continued, “In January this year, I was thrilled to herald the advance of California’s demonstration project, the first of its kind. This new guidance will open the floodgates for other states—including New York—seeking approval and will empower them to provide effective pre-release care, including care coordination, substance use and mental health treatment. By providing effective care, we give people reentering their communities a fighting chance at a better life. I’m heartened to see this pivotal, step forward and will continue working to codify this action and provide lifesaving care to those who need it most with my Reentry Act.”

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.

On Monday this week, more than 120 groups sent a letter to Senate and House leadership to strongly support and endorse Tonko’s Reentry Act.


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