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HHS Lets Medi-Cal Recipients Get Treatment in Jail/Prison

HHS Lets Medi-Cal Recipients Get Treatment in Jail/Prison

Biden’s Health and Human Services agency has approved a plan by Medi-Cal to cover substance-use treatment for people who are incarcerated or otherwise involved in the justice system. This will allow people who are indigent or who are eligible for Medicaid to begin Medication-Assisted Treatment, and have it continued whether they are in or out of jail, prison, or other correction facilities.

Why Is Treatment for Justice-Involved People Important?

The plan is meant to help the 65% of people incarcerated in prison who also have a substance use disorder. Substance use and untreated mental health issues are often demographic factors that seem to land people in jail or on probation.

Comprehensive substance use treatment for people in jail works. It helps people get sober and stay sober. Treatment in jail is good for communities, too; they help treat social problems and get people the help they need to succeed in sobriety. Overdoses are reduced when people don’t relapse. Drug treatment also helps reduce crime and recidivism.

People who are leaving jail or prison are often vulnerable to relapse. It’s a stressful and exciting time, but without guidance, it’s easy to make mistakes. Sadly, with the current fentanyl epidemic, just one pill is enough to cause a relapse death.

Comprehensive substance use treatment for people in jail works. Research shows that people who can get sober in jail struggle once they’re out, so supports are needed when they return to the community. Medi-Cal will help people get sober housing or other aftercare.

How Will the Medi-Cal Coverage Work for Justice-Involved People?

Medi-Cal will now allow for treatment services for their members that offer continuity. Medication-Assisted Treatment can now be received both in and out of jail, allowing incarcerated people to maintain their sobriety.

When released from jail, treatment can continue. Medi-Cal will provide a list of Medicaid providers 90 days prior to their release so this can be accomplished.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on expanding access to health care across the country and doing so with equity in mind,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra of the initiative. “In partnership with HHS, the state of California is leading the way in providing coverage to justice-involved individuals. This is the first time in history Medicaid will be providing coverage to justice-involved individuals before they’re released. It is a step forward in closing gaps in services this underserved community experiences, and I encourage other states to follow California’s lead.”

This initiative can save lives and help people with substance use disorder continue to stay sober and live/thrive in their communities.


The Society of Addiction and Recovery residences helps set the standard for addiction recovery and sober housing. People in recovery thrive when they’re given a chance to spread their wings in a structured, supportive environment. Get help with finding a sober living residence by calling us at 619-828-2001.