Publications / CalAIM Explained: Caring for Californians Leaving Incarceration

CalAIM Explained: Caring for Californians Leaving Incarceration

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people leave California jails and prisons and return to the community, including many who cycle in and out of the system repeatedly. A disproportionate number of these people have multiple chronic physical and behavioral health conditions and need services upon reentry to the community. In addition to immediate health care needs, they also face myriad challenges made more difficult by having a criminal record, from accessing benefits to securing a job and finding housing. Coordination of health and social services during this disorienting time is critical to improving health outcomes, advancing health equity, and reducing recidivism.

Because of Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act, most people leaving California jails and prisons are eligible for Medi-Cal. Still, federal law has long barred the use of federal Medicaid funds for services for people who are incarcerated. In part for this reason, when people leave prison and jail, they often experience gaps in accessing health care in their community. In early 2023, as part of the CalAIM initiative, California became the first state in the nation to receive federal approval to use Medi-Cal to cover a targeted set of services for people leaving jail or prison in the 90 days before their release. Correctional systems can start implementing this innovative approach as early as April 1, 2024.

To help health care stakeholders better understand the reentry process and effectively serve people leaving incarceration, CHCF has created these two overview documents:

CalAIM Explained: Caring for Californians Leaving Incarceration outlines not only the reentry process but also opportunities to best serve this population, both before release from incarceration and in the community.

Key Contacts for Providers Starting Reentry Services is a short document with links to key contacts at both the county level and statewide level to help providers get started.

Both documents are available in document downloads below.

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