WASHINGTON, D.C. – Within the first two weeks of re-entry, individuals released from correctional facilities are 129 times more likely to die from an opioid overdose than the general population. To help ensure that individuals can access the care they need, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Edward Markey (D-MA), and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) reintroduced the Supporting Positive Outcomes After Release Act.

“Everyone should have a right to quality, affordable healthcare, and we know the re-entry period for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families can be particularly challenging if they have a history of substance use disorder,” said Senator Brown. “We must do a better job at making sure formerly incarcerated individuals have the tools they need to stay healthy, to help them get back on their feet so that they can hold down jobs and contribute to their communities.” 

This legislation would require states to suspend, rather than terminate, an individual’s Medicaid coverage while they are incarcerated, ensuring access to addiction treatment, mental health services, and medications in the critical, immediate days and weeks after release. This is already the policy in thirty-one states which allow for immediate reactivation upon release. Drug overdoses rose dramatically during 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 93,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2020. Providing seamless reactivation of Medicaid coverage after release from incarceration will save lives and help individuals stay out of jails and prisons.

The Supporting Positive Outcomes after Release Act would build upon progress made in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (Public Law No: 115-271) that now requires states to suspend, rather than terminate, Medicaid coverage for Medicaid beneficiaries up to the age of 21. It would expand this bipartisan policy by applying it to all adult Medicaid beneficiaries.

Full text of the legislation can be found HERE.

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