Research Alert

Newswise — In a new study published in Health Affairs, researchers at IUPUI and the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration found that Medicaid enrollment occurred more frequently and more quickly for individuals impacted by the justice system after the Healthy Indiana Plan expanded eligibility for low-income adults and Indiana state agencies improved coordination and data sharing efforts.

When justice-involved adults transitioned to the community, the eligibility changes in HIP were associated with approximately 555 more adults receiving coverage, or a 9-percentage-point increase in enrollment.

“Health care coverage is an essential social need, especially for justice-involved adults who are transitioning back to the community,” said Justin Blackburn, lead author and associate professor of health policy and management at the IU Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. “The implementation of the Healthy Indiana Plan and increased interagency coordination were able to improve access to coverage for this population. A lack of coverage is often a reason why these individuals cannot access primary care or care for mental health and substance use.”

The researchers also found that interagency coordination -- including beginning applications before release and allowing the suspension and reinstatement of benefits -- led to increases in Medicaid enrollment for justice-involved adults. Over three years, approximately 5,000 more adults received coverage because of these efforts to expedite the application and enrollment process.

In addition, more than 2,500 adults received coverage within seven days of transition -- a time when the need for health services is critical.

“There is more to learn more about how health care coverage affects this population,” said Blackburn. “We still need to examine if coverage can improve health outcomes for chronic disease management, deter emergency room visits or have an impact on recidivism.”

Coauthors on this study include Nir Menachemi of the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Connor Norwood, Dan Rusyniak, Amy Lewis Gilbert and Jennifer Sullivan, all of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

Journal Link: Health Affairs