According to recent statistics from The Sentencing Project and Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 60% (approximately 1.44 million) of incarcerated individuals are of color in the United States (African American: 36.5%; Latino: 22%; Other Minorities: 8.4%).
Due to the Affordable Care Act, a substantial portion of “justice-involved” individuals are eligible for Medicaid [22% (2.86 million out of 13 million) of the newly eligible Medicaid individuals are justice-involved)]. Justice-involved individuals include those who are incarcerated, on parole, or probation. This population has increased rates of behavioral and physical health issues, yet as many as 90% of those newly released from prison lack health insurance. Additionally, this population also faces higher rates of poverty, unemployment, housing instability, and family/personal issues.
In Kavita et al’s recent publication in Health Affairs, several examples are highlighted in how correctional facilities and community-based organizations (health and other social services) successfully coordinated efforts to provide cost-effective and affordable healthcare for the formerly incarcerated population. Some of these coordinated efforts include Community Partnerships and Supportive Services for HIV-Infected People Leaving Jail (COMPASS) and Project Bridge in Rhode Island, as well as the Transitions Clinic Model that operates in 10 different cities across the nation.
Based on the aforementioned successful models, Kavita et al provide several policy recommendations on providing quality healthcare services for this community with complex needs:
1. Increasing exposure to different competencies across medical and behavioral health fields so that providers gain a better understanding about the social determinants of health that affect this community
2. Reducing barriers in coordination care efforts and information exchange across different healthcare and social service sectors
3. Ensuring a systematic and effective approach in information exchange (i.e. electronic health records)
For Kavita et al’s Health Affairs article, please click here.
Joanne Chan, Joint Center Graduate Scholar, Harvard School of Public Health