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Kathleen Maurer

Research shows that there are a disproportionate number of justice involved individuals suffering from chronic illness and/ or mental health and substance abuse disorders. We also know that a majority of the justice-involved individuals are young adults and unemployed or earn an income that is well below the federal poverty line leaving them without the ability to obtain health care. There is now an opportunity to enhance collaboration between the criminal justice/corrections and healthcare systems. Early estimates indicate a significant number of justice-involved individuals may be eligible for provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically; enrollment in Medicaid or the ability to purchase health care coverage through state health insurance exchanges. Because of the many health care expansion possibilities for this population we are witnessing an unprecedented opportunity to help connect the justice population to healthcare coverage and the associated healthcare services.

Federal, state and local criminal justice systems are poised to change the way they do business with the advent of the ACA. It is now possible for millions of low income, justice- involved individuals to obtain healthcare or insurance coverage for their physical and behavioral health needs. This far reaching system change will impact every decision point in the criminal justice system from arrest to individuals returning to the community upon release.

Presented on June 18, 2014, this program informed and increased awareness around this historic healthcare expansion opportunity. The broadcast highlighted promising practices by providing resources and strategies to expand healthcare coverage to justice-involved individuals. During this national discussion and broadcast by the National Institute of Corrections, presenters:

  • Established the relevance of the Affordable Care Act to the criminal justice system.
  • Provided concrete examples for collaboration and system linkages between the criminal justice system and healthcare system.
  • Provided healthcare enrollment strategies to increase informed decision-making between criminal justice and healthcare stakeholders.
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common blood-borne infection in the United States, with approximately three million persons living with current infection. Of the two million individuals incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, a February 2015 Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) special report states that 9.8% of these individuals have Hepatitis C. With the advent of a one pill per day treatment regimen, the management of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) in corrections is rapidly evolving.

“Correctional health is a key to public health.” – (Retired) Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, United States Surgeon General.

This internet broadcast from the National Institute of Correction (NIC) covers the newest innovations in treatment practices, protocols, and management of HCV and its implications for criminal justice, corrections organizations and public health.

Topics discussed include the current prevalence of Hepatitis C in the general public in comparison to the correctional population, highlighting the importance of treating pervasive co-occurring substance use disorders. As one of the first lines of defense in public health, correctional agencies have a critical opportunity to screen, diagnose, and treat.

We will identify several correctional systems throughout the country which are effectively managing their HCV infected population, focusing on successes and challenges of management. Presenters will also share recommendations and resources for jurisdictions looking to implement and improve upon existing programs.

This broadcast will answer the following questions: What is the scope of HCV as an issue, while comparing and contrasting HCV prevalence in the general and corrections populations ; What is HCV?, How is it transmitted?, What is the current prevalence?, and What are current treatment options and related costs?; What are the policies, protocols and procedures implemented by agencies that are effectively managing HCV?; How can agencies improve the coordination of care and services for offenders upon release?; How can we proactively address current and future challenges such as developing and implementing consistent screening and treatment protocols; data collection; pharmaceutical cost management; and collaboration with local, state and federal partners?; and What are recommended resources and next steps for jurisdictions interested in implementing or improving an existing HCV program?

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