Turner, local sheriffs discuss restoring Medicaid benefits for inmates with bipartisan bill

DAYTON — A bill co-sponsored by a Dayton congressman is aimed at removing unfair Medicaid exclusions for pre-trial detainees.

Congressman Mike Turner, along with Montgomery County Sheriff Rob Streck and Clark County Sheriff Deb Burchett, spoke Tuesday about the Due Process Continuity of Care Act.

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Currently, if you are in jail, even just awaiting trial, you lose your Medicaid benefits. The Due Process Continuity of Care Act could change that.

The bipartisan bill would amend the Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy. It would make it so that pretrial detainees receiving substance abuse treatment can continue to receive them, reducing the rates of overdose and recidivism post-detainment.

News Center 7 was there Tuesday when Turner said cutting off detainees’ benefits is a constitutional issue.

“Because they are incarcerated but they have not been convicted of a crime and yet they lose their federal benefits that they’re entitled to. Also, the burden falls upon the local community. Our sheriffs’ departments are not able to step in where the federal government is providing a benefit and provide that benefit for those who are incarcerated,” Turner said.

Streck said this puts a strain on local jails.

“Like many jails across the county, Montgomery County has seen a significant increase in people incarcerated with severe medical issues,” Streck said.

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Both Streck and Burchett said over half of the inmates in their jails have some sort of mental illness.

“This is the most physically ill, mentally ill, and addicted population that we have ever dealt with,” Streck said.

The sheriffs said when inmates are taken off Medicaid, it’s not easy to foot the bill.

“Not only do they suffer money wise, our deputies, corrections officers that work in the jail they suffer because these people have no medication,” Burchett said noting that those working in the jails deal with violence every day.

The Department of Health and Human Services will provide states with the funds to cover the cost of implementing the bill if it gets passed.

Turner said this is a top priority for him and he hopes to get it passed by January.

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