The Truth About Health Reform’s Medicaid Expansion and People Leaving Jail

Hispanic Political Caucus

Some opponents of health reform’s Medicaid expansion have complained that it would enable many former inmates to qualify, citing an estimate that 35 percent of adults who would be newly eligible for Medicaid have been involved in the criminal justice system in the past year.[1] Such figures, however, are highly inflated.

For one thing, only about half that amount — 17 percent — of newly eligible adults who enroll in Medicaid will have been in jail or prison. For another, the majority of these people were not convicted of a crime but, instead, spent brief periods in local jails while awaiting trial or final action on the charges against them.[2]

More importantly, studies show that connecting low-income adults to the health care system when they leave jail or prison can help them adjust to life in the community and avoid returning to jail or prison. Medicaid, however, does

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