Medicaid Reform Can Help Solve Prison Problems

With our prison population at almost double capacity and consuming almost a third of the General Fund Budget which funds all the other agencies in state government, I decided to take one of the most difficult challenges in my political career. As a strong conservative who believes my most sacred obligation I have as an elected official is to protect you from those who would us harm you, and to be a wise steward of your tax dollars, I have worked tirelessly to pass reform bills that will do just that. The news events in the past couple of days continue to highlight the violence and unrest within our prison population. With our prisons in a severe state of crisis with over population and the highest number of prisoners to prison guards in the nation, I continue to bring common sense legislation that will result in keeping us safe, insuring that violent criminals are locked away in a secure environment, and will better protect those whom have the job of managing and staffing our prisons. This past week I passed Senate Bill 268 out of committee. Senate Bill 268 mandates that Medicaid will suspend Medicaid benefits instead of terminating upon incarceration. The focus behind this bill is twofold, stop the revolving door with the serious mentally ill (SMI) population in our jails and prisons and to reduce prison medical costs to the state. In short, if the state terminates Medicaid coverage upon incarceration the state loses the ability to shift those costs to the federal government. In an aging prison population those costs could be significant. In addition, passage of Senate Bill 268 could result in sizeable savings to Alabama municipalities and counties by allowing a jail prisoner that has been diagnosed as serious mentally ill (SMI) to have their Medicaid benefits suspended instead of terminated. According to the National Association of County Commissions, it can take months to get Medicaid benefits reinstated once they have been terminated. Senate Bill 68 would result in Medicaid benefit being restored in a matter of days. The logic is that to stop the revolving door of incarceration for a prisoner diagnosed as serious mentally ill, it is imperative they get the care and medicines they need in a timely manner or as statistics prove, they will continue to recycle though the jail system. This results in increased costs to cities, counties, and the state but most of all, it puts you the citizen at risk. It is a proven fact that with treatment and medication, the SMI population can be effectively managed which again reduces cost and provides a safe outcome for them and you. As always, please don’t hesitate to call or write with your concerns or suggestions.

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commented 2016-05-08 03:08:23 -0500 · Flag
What are your immediate plans to address the current issues regarding the mistreatment and unfair conditions at the Alabama prisons that are on strike?

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