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Biden Administration Asking States to Use Medicaid Funds to Cover Opioid Treatment in Jails/Prisons

The New York Times: Noah Weiland - April 21, 2023

The Biden administration this week accelerated efforts to fund opioid addiction treatment in jails and prisons, a core part of its drug policy agenda, calling on states to adopt a novel Medicaid program that will cover health care for incarcerated people.

Under new guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, states can ask the federal government to allow Medicaid to cover addiction treatment for up to 90 days ahead of someone’s release. Public health experts say that providing treatment during that critical period could help people survive the often harsh conditions of jails and prisons, then more easily transition back to the community.

Correctional facilities, where inmates disproportionately have opioid use disorder and often cannot find treatment during and after their incarceration, have claimed a spot on the forefront of the nation’s devastating overdose epidemic, which now kills more than 100,000 Americans each year.

“That’s where most people are, and that’s where you’re going to get the most benefit,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, the director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, referring to the high concentration of incarcerated Americans with opioid use disorder. Neglecting to treat addiction in jails and prisons, he added, comes at the “highest cost to society, to taxpayers.”

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