Vaupel testifies on Medicaid inmate exclusion policy

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State Rep. Hank Vaupel testified on Aug. 27, 2019, before the House Judiciary Committee in support of his resolution urging Congress to allow jail and prison inmates to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Vaupel, of Fowlerville, said a federal policy prohibits the payment of federal Medicaid matching dollars for medical services provided to prison inmates, even if they were previously covered by Medicaid.

“As a result, there is no continuity of care for inmates as they come into the corrections system or when they transition out,” Vaupel said. “A majority of the people in our jails and prisons have some sort of mental health or substance abuse problem they’re struggling with. The odds of them getting better and becoming healthy, productive members of their community improve greatly if they have access to consistent and reliable treatments.”

Judge Harvey Hoffman also testified in support of the resolution on behalf of the Michigan Association of Treatment Court Professionals.

“When people are in treatment court and they go to jail for a period of time and lose their Medicaid funding, it causes a lapse in their treatment,” Hoffman said. “Because of this, we find that they typically come out worse than when they went in.”

Vaupel said the resolution was inspired by the many individuals he heard from during the 2017-18 statewide House CARES mental health task force tour.

“The current federal restrictions set up a pathway to recidivism because people with mental health issues are not often able to navigate the waters to get back on Medicaid after they get out of jail or prison,” Vaupel said. “I urge Congress to rethink this harmful policy.”

House Resolution 93 remains under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

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