Feds: Medicaid fair game to cover addiction treatment in jail

The federal government will soon allow states to use Medicaid funds to treat substance use and mental illness in jails and prison, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Feb. 21.

Under current rules, Medicaid cannot be used to cover the costs of medical treatment in jail or prison unless that person is receiving care at an outside clinic or hospital, according to the report. This leaves states and counties on the hook for medical treatment for some  incarcerated people who might otherwise qualify for Medicaid. 

Rahul Gupta, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said details are still being worked out, but guidelines will be released this spring, according to the report. He said states that apply to expand Medicaid funding in their jails and prisons must use the funds to cover substance abuse and mental health treatment. Otherwise, the federal government wants to allow states flexibility in how they propose to use those funds. 

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