Thursday, March 31, 2011

VA Extends Post-Incarceration Health Care

Measure Would Help Reduce Repeat Offenses

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2011)- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
will extend health care to eligible Veterans in halfway houses and other
temporary, post-incarceration housing under a new program aimed at
cutting back on repeat offenses.

"There's hard evidence that lack of access to health care, including
mental health care, for newly released inmates is a factor in people
becoming homeless or returning to prison and jail," said Jim McGuire,
director of VA's Veterans Justice Outreach Programs. "These are Veterans
who otherwise qualify for VA health care."

A long-standing rule has barred VA from providing health care to
Veterans for whom another federal, state or local government has an
obligation to provide health care.  Frequently, that means inmates of
prisons and jails.

Under the changed rule, that prohibition would be amended and VA would
be allowed to provide health care to Veterans in halfway houses and
other temporary, post-incarceration housing.

An Urban Institute study in 2008 found that good health care in the
first months of community reentry played a key role in easing
readjustment and reducing recidivism.

About 29,000-56,000 Veterans are released annually from state and
federal prisons, and at least 90,000 Veterans are released each year
from city and county jails, according to Department of Justice's Bureau
of Justice Statistics.

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