Historic new guidance allows states to apply to use their federal Medicaid funds to support reentry—a time when individuals with substance use disorder are at higher risk for overdose death

Washington, D.C. – Dr, Rahul Gupta, the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), issued the following statement regarding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ action today to allow states to use Medicaid funds to provide health care services—including treatment for people with substance use disorder—to individuals in carceral settings.

“As many as 65 percent of people who are incarcerated have a substance use disorder, so this policy change just makes sense. Treating substance use disorder in prisons and jails helps prevent overdose deaths, reduces crime, increases employment during reentry, and opens doors to new beginnings, new opportunities, and fulfilling lives,” said Dr. Gupta. “We want to see every jail and prison across America offer this lifesaving care, and today’s announcement will help more States do that.”

The new Medicaid Reentry Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity, made available by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, would allow state Medicaid programs to cover services that address various health concerns, including substance use disorders and other chronic health conditions. This guidance is based on California’s successful waiver application, which allowed the State to use Medicaid funds for treating individuals with substance use disorder who are transitioning back to the community.

This announcement follows President Biden’s announcement in the State of the Union that all 122 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities will offer in-house medication-assisted treatment (MAT) by this summer, as well as the release of a state model law to address substance use treatment in correctional settings to prevent overdoses. It also follows several other new Administration actions to save lives, including ONDCP launching a social media campaign aimed at young people about the dangers of illicit fentanyl and how Naloxone can reverse overdoses, Dr. Gupta designating xylazine as an emerging drug threat facing the nation, the FDA announcing that Naloxone will be available over-the-counter, and the Administration’s strengthened approach to crack down on illicit fentanyl supply chains.

To support the Administration’s efforts to save lives and disrupt drug trafficking, President Biden has requested a historic $46.1 billion from Congress for national drug control programs. This represents a $5.0 billion increase from the FY2022 request and a $2.3 billion increase over the FY2023 enacted level. The FY2024 budget also includes an increase in funding for efforts to reduce the supply of illicit drugs like fentanyl and combat drug trafficking. It also includes an increase in funding to support the expansion of prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services. Read more HERE.

To read President Biden’s National Drug Control Strategy, click HERE.

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