Legislative Victory: Healthcare Coverage for People Leaving Prison
Lorrayne Patterson-Greene, active member in the CA’s Coalition for Women Prisoners and re-entry specialist at Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, recounted for The New York Times how she had to visit the emergency room in order to get blood pressure pills after she was released from state prison: “I was really scared,” she told the reporter. “It increased my stress level, not having access to my medication.” The article, “In New State Law, a Wait-Free Return to Medicaid Rolls After Prison,” reports on the passage of a bill that requires New York State to suspend Medicaid for people entering prison or jail. Lorrayne’s story was one of several personal experiences highlighted by the Times to underline the serious need for such legislation.
The CA’s Women in Prison Project (WIPP) and Prison Visiting Project (PVP) played a leading role in moving the bill during this year’s legislative session, and Governor Eliot Spitzer signed it into law in July. We congratulate and thank the numerous community partners and organizations, including the Coalition for Women Prisoners, New York City Mayor’s Office, New York City Department of Correction, and Legal Action Center, who worked to ensure that this important policy was enacted.
Under previous policy, New York State terminated Medicaid for individuals entering prison or jail, leaving them with little or no access to healthcare coverage for months after their release. From a public health perspective, the failure to provide medical coverage for an eligible population with high rates of serious and chronic illness made little sense.
Although the suspension law constitutes a significant step forward, it does not address the whole problem: many individuals who are Medicaid-eligible enter prison without prior enrollment and fall outside the bounds of the new suspension law. Incarcerated individuals are not allowed to file Medicaid applications on their own behalf; without staff assistance, they must wait until release to begin the process, which can take 45 to 90 days. Many will still go through the same difficulties as they wait for coverage. WIPP and PVP are working with state agencies and other organizations to ensure that Medicaid applications are filed for all eligible incarcerated people, regardless of whether they entered prison with coverage. Providing “facilitated enrollment” for people in New York’s prisons would enhance the state’s ability to promote public health and safety, reduce recidivism, and save funds on emergency care.
Correctional Assn. of NY Testifies at NY Assembly Hearing on Prison Health; Urges Health Department oversight, end to delays in treatment, and increase in resources for better care
(October 31, 2017, New York, NY) The Correctional Association of New York (CA) yesterday was one of more than fifteen organizations and agencies testifying at a New York State Assembly Joint Health and Correction’s public hearing on prison healthcare. Through our statutory authority granted in 1846, the CA monitors New York prisons and reports to [...]Read More
ALBANY — New York’s complex of 54 state prison facilities is struggling to fill vacant jobs for nurses, doctors and other health care providers. Filling those vacancies and dealing with an aging prison population at facilities across the state have become among the tallest challenges for the $3 billion correctional system, top administrators concede. In [...]Read More
Watch the Correctional Association’s video about the barbaric – and illegal – shackling of incarcerated women during childbirth. In 2009 New York enacted a statute restricting the use of shackles on women during childbirth. The law bans outright the use of restraints on women throughout labor, delivery and recovery “after giving birth,” which is meant [...]Read More
Prison Monitoring Reports
Auburn was the first prison to implement the “Auburn System,” a system of incarceration in which incarcerated people worked in groups during the day, were housed in solitary cells during the night, and lived in enforced silence. Today, Auburn Correctional Facility operates as a maximum security, DOCCS-operated prison for men ages 21 and older.Read More