WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressmen Tom Emmer (R-MN), David Trone (D-MD), Michael Turner (R-OH), and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced the Due Process Continuity of Care Act. This bill would amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy (MIEP), which currently denies Medicaid coverage to all incarcerated individuals, to allow coverage for pre-trial detainees.
The MIEP’s policy of exclusion towards pre-trial detainees conflicts with their constitutional right to due process by denying Medicaid coverage to individuals presumed innocent. Pretrial detainees make up approximately two-thirds of people held in local jails.
“For the more than approximately 20% of inmates in our nation’s jails with mental illness and substance use disorder (SUD), treatment isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. However, current law prohibits incarcerated individuals from accessing federal health benefits when they are behind bars—even if they haven’t been convicted of a crime and are awaiting trial,” said Congressman Emmer. “This means that patients are forced to abandon existing routines of care, often having to begin new treatment regimens with new and frequently overburdened health providers associated with the jails where they’re being held. Consistent and proper care for mental health and SUD is not only in line with the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, it will also make our communities safer. It’s time we fixed this oversight and ensure these individuals have a chance to heal.”
“Seizing Medicaid coverage from pre-trial detainees, who experience higher rates of mental health and substance use disorders, is destabilizing and counterproductive,” said Congressman David Trone. “Not only does this policy hurt these vulnerable populations, but it also disproportionately affects low-income folks who are unable to pay bonds. This bill would bridge those inequities and allow for a more humane, more just pre-trial health care system.”
“The Due Process Continuity of Care Act helps address the opioid misuse crisis by fixing an unconstitutional flaw in our Medicaid system,” said Congressman Turner. “The current Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy perpetuates a dangerous cycle of treatment interruption and recidivism. I am proud to support this reform that provides pretrial inmates the medical treatment they need to recover from opioid abuse disorders.”
“For years, I’ve worked to advance bipartisan legislation that expands access to addiction treatment and delivers needed support to our most vulnerable communities,” said Congressman Tonko. “The Due Process Continuity of Care Act builds powerfully on this effort by ensuring that people not convicted of a crime retain lifesaving Medicaid coverage. I am proud to join Congressman Trone to introduce this legislation that will reduce recidivism, protect due process, and save lives.”
“The R Street Institute applauds Congressman David Trone for introducing the Due Process Continuity of Care Act and focusing on fixing the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy,” said Anthony Lamorena of the R St Institute. “His legislation will allow states to provide Medicaid coverage to pre-trial detainees, particularly those who have not been convicted of a crime or pleaded guilty. As 40 percent of jail inmates have a chronic illness, 44 percent have a mental illness and 63 percent suffer from substance misuse, this legislation is more important every day.”
“The Major County Sheriffs of America (MCSA) expresses our strong commitment to advancing this effort to amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy to allow Medicaid coverage of health care services for those in pretrial settings,” said Sheriff Peter Koutoujian, MCSA President. “We thank the bill’s sponsors for their continued leadership to improve health outcomes for justice-involved individuals. Ensuring that individuals maintain access to critical health benefits in pretrial settings will improve continuity of care, reduce recidivism, and restore the state and local partnership in delivering safety-net benefits. MCSA stands ready to support all efforts to pass the Due Process Continuity of Care Act.”
For bill text, click here.
The bill is endorsed by Major Country Sheriffs, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Counties, National Sheriffs Association, R St Institute, and Successful Reentry.