Access to Health Care in the Community for Ex-Prisoners - Defining Guidelines

Meeting to define guidelines for health care access for prisoners re-entering the community

The Community Voices: Healthcare for the Underserved program of Morehouse School of Medicine (funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation) convened two meetings in March and May 2006 to define guidelines for health care access for prisoners re-entering the community.

The meetings, held in Washington and Atlanta, drew 55 invited participants, including health care providers, policy-makers, health policy analysts and representatives of nonprofit community-based organizations and foundations.

Key Findings: The project team reported the following key findings in a summary of the two meetings, Developing an Action Agenda for Prisoners Reentering the Community: Reconnecting to Health Services. Findings included:

  • The prevalence of mental disorders in the prison population is significantly higher (16%) than in the general population (5%).
  • Incarcerated individuals are more likely than the general population to have untreated oral health problems.
  • Most prisoners re-entering the community are not eligible for Medicaid, as eligibility frequently does not extend to adults between the ages of 21 and 64 who are childless, not pregnant and neither blind nor disabled.

Key Recommendations: The project team reported the following recommendations in Developing an Action Agenda for Prisoners Reentering the Community: Reconnecting to Health Services:

  • Provide Medicaid coverage for ex-offenders re-entering the community, including prevention and treatment services, mental health and substance abuse services and dental health services.
  • Develop a list of mental health and substance abuse treatment providers in the community for ex-offenders and facilitate access to these providers through the use of outreach workers.
  • Collaborate with the American Dental Association and colleges of dentistry to establish a consortium of providers of dental services for ex-offenders re-entering the community.

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