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CMS Opens Door for Pre-Release Services for Justice-Involved Populations:


In January, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) approved a first-of-its-kind waiver allowing California’s Medicaid program to pay for health care services for justice-involved individuals before they are released from state prisons, county jails, and youth correctional facilities. This historic approval partly waives the federal Medicaid inmate exclusion policy, allowing transitional care services for youth and Medicaid-eligible adults with chronic medical or behavioral health needs up to 90 days prior to release. This opportunity has the potential to improve health care access and outcomes for people who are incarcerated, who disproportionately experience significant medical, behavioral health, and social needs, yet historically have not been connected to needed services upon reentry to the community. While CMS guidance is forthcoming, stakeholders in California and nationally are eager to identify how to maximize this new potential coverage option to advance equitable health coverage for this population.


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