U.S. News & World Report: Correctional health expert says Mass. inmates covered by Medicaid at release

May 21, 2015

A correctional health expert at UMass Medical School discussed MassHealth coverage for inmates in a U.S. News & World Report article May 19 detailing a nationwide effort to enroll inmates in Medicaid to reduce costs and improve health care access.

"Most of us care about trying to ensure sentences end when inmates leave prison, instead of continuing to have obstacles in their lives after they have paid their debt to society," said Warren Ferguson, MD, professor and vice chair of Family Medicine & Community Health and director of academic programs for its the Health and Criminal Justice Program.

While jails and prisons across the U.S. are now enrolling inmates in Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Massachusetts began enrolling inmates in the program in 2007 when the state reformed its health care system, Dr. Ferguson said.

In Massachusetts, inmates become active members of MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, as soon as they’re released from prison.

Within UMass Medical School’s Commonwealth Medicine division, the Health and Criminal Justice Program focuses on research and scholarship; education; and service and consulting. It also runs the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health, which hosts an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed conference annually on criminal justice health and health policy.

The Health and Criminal Justice Program manages contracts to provide health services for the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Federal Medical Centers in Devens, Massachusetts, and Butner, North Carolina, as well as its Federal Correctional Institutions in Ray Brook, New York, and Berlin, New Hampshire.ferguspon