DOES TEXAS PROVIDE MEDICAID TO INMATES UPON RELEASE?
Medicaid in Texas is a program that provides healthcare to low-income residents that are in need of health coverage. Medicaid coverage provides health services such as doctor visits, vaccinations, prescription drugs, hospital care, and rides to medical appointments as needed. Medicaid provides coverage to low-income individuals and families that would otherwise go without any healthcare services, producing healthier communities in the state of Texas. Medicaid is paving the way for positive wellbeing of all Texas citizens, including those who were once behind bars. Inmates who are released from prison are more susceptible to health issues, making health coverage even more important for these individuals.
Texas Medicaid is only available to single adults if they are low-income and have a disability. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansions have led to coverage for more low-income adults throughout thirty states in America. The states that have embraced Medicaid expansion now offer coverage to any individual citizen or legal immigrant below the poverty line. Nineteen states – including the state of Texas – had chosen not to expand Medicaid coverage to any other needy populations. The ruling by the Supreme Court made the expansion of Medicaid to low-income individuals optional, and Texas opted out of this ruling. Texas maintains the stance that only low-income adults with a disability can qualify for Medicaid. Low-income children, parents, and pregnant women remain the standard for qualifying for TX Medicaid. This has led to over 5 million Texas residents living without health insurance in 2014, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which equals to nearly one out of five residents going without necessary health services.
Incarcerated populations are at a higher risk for HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis than the general population. Upon their release, only ex-cons with a disability are eligible for Medicaid in Texas, leaving out many individuals in need of regular check-ups and care. Released inmates also face a higher risk for asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure – all conditions that require monitoring, medication, or a combination of both. Prison inmates are especially susceptible to mental illness, and according to the Bureau of Justice, more than half of those released are effected by mental disorders. Care upon immediate release is crucial to prison inmates. This leaves a substantial group of people in Texas without insurance that need mental health services in order thrive within society. Inmates are not covered under Medicaid in Texas while incarcerated due to prisons having their own doctors and specialists, and upon their release on those that have a disability meet the requirements to receive health insurance. Without the expansion of Texas Medicaid, many released prisoners will go without necessary healthcare coverage, which is effecting the state’s well-being as well as economy, and the uninsured rate for those within the state has continued to plummet. Although Texas Medicaid has not yet expanded, the Supreme Court ruling in 2012 allows the state to expand at any time, which allows the prospect for ex-inmates to receive care at some point in the future.