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California Jails Help Enroll Inmates in Health Care

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

Michael Coghlan / Flickr

A non-profit group surveyed 44 counties in California. It found that most of them were already helping inmates sign up for health care. Other counties were actively planning to enroll incarcerated people.

Jenny Montoya Tansey of Californians for Safety and Justice says health care coverage can prevent people from committing crimes.

“There’s a substantial majority of people in local justice systems who suffer from substance abuse problems as well as mental illness," Montoya Tansey explains.

"Sometimes those health problems actually contribute to criminal activity whether that’s drug possession or the types of low level property offenses that people may commit in order to access drugs,” she says. 

The expansion of Medi-Cal under the Affordable Care Act made coverage available to many inmates who didn’t have it before.

Montoya Tansey says tens of thousands of people who’ve gone through the criminal justice system are getting help enrolling in health care.

Pauline Bartolone


Pauline Bartolone has been a journalist for more than 15 years, during which she was Capital Public Radio’s healthcare reporter from 2011-2015. Her work has aired frequently on National Public Radio.  Read Full Bio 

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