The Department of Corrections and the Louisiana Department of Health are teaming up to get health coverage for newly released inmates. DOC Medical Director Dr. Raman Singh says they are helping incarcerated inmates enroll in Medicaid so that once they are released, they can continue to receive the care they need.
“They are being released back to their communities. One-third of them have serious mental health issues. Seventy-five percent of them have substance abuse disorder issues,” Singh said.
Singh says DOC is all about reentry and making sure released offenders succeed in their communities. He says this is good for the taxpayers as well because reducing the recidivism rate keeps inmates out of jails. He says this new program will also give offenders access to primary care physicians, instead of emergency rooms.
“By staying in the Medicaid safety net, they will not abuse emergency rooms because they become critical, and it will be good for taxpayers, as the care in the outpatient setting is the most cost efficient care,” Singh said.
Singh says the first phase of the program is being implemented in 7 DOC state facilities, with 230 offenders already linked to a health plan. He says from there the fully electronic system will be put in place at the local prisons, and eventually in the entire department.
“The program is almost fully automatic, one of a kind in the country, which does not require too much paperwork. We exchange information electronically,” Singh said.