Committee Leaders Concerned Expansion of Medicaid to Include the Incarcerated Could Impact Care for Nation’s Most Vulnerable

October 10, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC –House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Health Subcommittee Chairman Joseph Pitts (R-PA) yesterday sent a letter Comptroller General of the United States Gene Dodaro regarding jail inmates’ qualification under the health care law’s Medicaid expansion. A presentation from the Center for Health Care Strategies found that jail inmates could represent 30 percent of the health care law’s 2014 Medicaid expansion with three to four million inmates potentially enrolling and six to seven million qualifying for Medicaid based on income.

Upton and Pitts write, “We believe the data reinforce our concerns that PPACA diverted the Medicaid program from its original intent to serve the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including children, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, and low-income disabled seniors. The Medicaid program is already struggling to meet the health care needs of our poorest and sickest Americans. We must better understand the true costs of expanding the program to any new population and weigh such costs with the competing interests of our nation’s most vulnerable law-abiding citizens.”

Upton and Pitts, “request a comprehensive analysis of: (1) federal Medicaid costs and enrollment data for inmates and/or detainees (for costs associated with allowable inpatient treatment) and (2) federal Medicaid costs and enrollment data for inmates who have been released into the community and are newly-eligible for Medicaid due to the PPACA expansion.”

The committee has been actively reviewing Medicaid’s weaknesses and identifying responsible, reasonable reforms to protect the program and deliver quality services to the vulnerable Americans who rely on it. In June, Upton authored an IDEA LAB, Making Medicaid Work, which offers sensible solutions to fix Medicaid’s troubling fiscal state and provides states opportunities for patient-centered reforms and flexibility. The IDEA LAB stems from a joint blueprint Making Medicaid Work released in May by Upton and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT). In March, the committee released a staff report entitled The Medicaid Check Up: Reasons for Reform that details the state of the Medicaid program.

Read the complete letter online here.