How Will the Affordable Health Care Act Impact Prisoners and Public Safety?
Date:  09-12-2012

Sentencing Project report claims health care for inmates would improve, recidivism rates would drop, and racial disparities will be addressed
There has been much debate over the Affordable Care Act, with both sides weighing in on its benefits and drawbacks. But until now, not much has been said about a vulnerable population of 2.3 million Americans that is particularly hard hit by physical and mental illness. American prisoners have barriers to receiving necessary health care, according to a new Sentencing Project report.

Written by Dr. Susan Phillips, The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Safety and Corrections Populations, relates how inmates, and the public, would benefit by the Affordable Health Care Act. The Sentencing Project report claims that the Act could provide three key changes:

  • Expanded Health Care Coverage The Affordable Care Act gives states the option of expanding Medicaid eligibility and makes prevention, early intervention, and treatment of mental health problems and substance use essential health benefits. In states that opt to expand Medicaid coverage, the Federal government will cover 100% of expenditures for the newly eligible population from 2014 to 2016, with the amount of federal funds decreasing yearly to 90% by 2020 and thereafter.

  • Reducing Recidivism Because of the role mental health and substance abuse problems play in behaviors that lead to incarceration and recidivism, the Affordable Care Act could help states reduce the number of people cycling through the criminal justice system.

  • Addressing Racial Disparities The new legislation may contribute to reducing racial disparities in incarceration that arise from disparate access to treatment.

    Source: The Sentencing Project
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