LINCOLN–(News Release Sept. 14)–The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (NDHHS) are partnering to facilitate Nebraska Medicaid enrollment for individuals releasing from NDCS custody.

LB921, which took effect July 1, 2023, ensures individuals releasing from any NDCS facility are assisted with applying for Medicaid benefits prior to their release. Individuals can qualify for Medicaid based on a variety of factors, including income, age and disability. Individuals who are eligible for Medicaid can voluntarily enroll or decline enrollment.

“Access to medical and mental healthcare services is key to establishing a stable and healthy life after incarceration,” said NDCS Director Rob Jeffreys. “Partnering with NDHHS and Medicaid to ensure these services are available to reentrants is essential to a system where we as Nebraska prioritize our citizens and their needs.”

To facilitate Medicaid enrollment, NDCS staff have incorporated registration into reentry planning. Probation navigators assist individuals who will be on post release supervision in a similar manner as reentry.

“Initiating the Medicaid eligibility process prior to an individual’s release from incarceration is a pivotal step towards fostering a healthier reentry journey,” said Kevin Bagley, NDHHS Director of Medicaid and Long-Term Care. “This fosters improved access to medical and mental health care as individuals return to the community.”

Reentry specialists present Medicaid information generated by NDHHS and ascertain if an individual is interested in applying for Medicaid and if they need assistance doing so. They also share instructions for completing registration via the NDHHS Medicaid line 45 days prior to release. Free phone calls can be made to the NDHHS line on interactive devices, and registration is typically completed in one call.

In addition to reentry specialists, NDCS social workers provide assistance to people with significant medical or mental health needs prior to release. In these cases and others where an individual requires additional support registering, social workers may assist in facilitating the call.

“This process can be beneficial for individuals in learning to navigate systems and take ownership of their healthcare,” said Christy Rupe, director of social work. “It encourages individuals to be accountable for their own wellness plan and is a great opportunity for them to practice skills and really understand the process.”

Choosing to opt out of applying for Nebraska Medicaid under LB921 does not preclude an individual from applying at a future date.