An Important New Study Explains Why Obamacare's Medicaid Expansion Reduced Criminal Recidivism Rates
A group of academic researchers, led by Erkmen G. Aslim from Texas A&M University, have released a new study that finds that Obamacare's Medicaid expansion has substantially lowered criminal recidivism rates. It accomplished this by addressing the two underlying causes for more than half of all crime in America, addiction and mental illness. As the states expanded Medicaid coverage, many former criminals were able to access mental health and substance abuse care for the first times in their lives.
Before the Affordable Care Act [ACA], about 90% of those in prisons and jails in the United States were uninsured. Medicaid didn't cover poor adults who weren’t parents living with their minor children or people with disabilities. So, many low-income individuals with mental health and addiction problems didn't receive care, and those that committed crimes and were incarcerated rarely received the help they needed in prison. When they were released they often had the same problems and committed new crimes for which they received longer sentences as recidivists and the downward spiral continued.
The ACA expanded Medicaid eligibility to all adults with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line, including many single individuals who were ex-offenders. Several progressive states like Michigan took advantage of this to help newly released prisoners get substance abuse and mental health care.
Judith Solomon, The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "As one example, a study of a Michigan program to help recently released prisoners obtain community-based health care and social services found that it cut the recidivism rate by more than half, from 46 percent to 21.8 percent. Similarly, a study that the Department of Justice funded in Florida and Washington found that “in both states, 16 percent fewer jail detainees with serious mental illnesses who had Medicaid benefits at the time of their release returned to jail the following year, compared to similar detainees who did not have Medicaid.”
Dr. Aslim's new study found similar results looking at a larger population of ex-offenders.
Social Science Research Network: "Using administrative data on prison admission and release records from 2010 to 2016, we find that the [Medicaid] expansions decrease recidivism for both violent and public order crimes. In addition, we find that the public coverage expansions substantially increase access to substance use disorder treatment."
They found a 31% to 40% reduction among multi-time reoffenders between 2010 and 2016.
ACA's Medicaid expansion might be the most effective tool we have ever had to reduce recidivism rates in America. We have to be proactive, however, in directing newly released individuals to the help they need, and can now afford.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content