Case Study

Jail Outreach Program

Tags: Health

Boulder County, Colo.

Boulder County Housing & Human Services (HHS) and the Boulder County Jail established a partnership to ensure enrollment into Health First Colorado - Colorado’s Medicaid program - for inmates who experience a hospitalization of 24 hours or more while in custody and for inmates upon release from incarceration. This ongoing collaboration has so far resulted in saving Boulder County more than $449,000 in inmate hospital charges and provided health coverage for 150 inmates upon release from incarceration. Generally, people who have been incarcerated are not eligible for enrollment in Health First Colorado, but there is an exception for inmates hospitalized for 24 hours or more. In such cases, the Health Services Administrator at the jail contacts HHS to facilitate Health First Colorado enrollment. If the inmate is found eligible, the hospital will bill Health First Colorado. If the inmate is considered not eligible for enrollment, the hospital will bill the Boulder County Jail for services at 40% of total charges. Inmates are also able to apply for Health First Colorado coverage 60 days prior to release. Timely enrollment into health coverage means that essential medical and mental health services can be accessed immediately upon release. An Eligibility Technician from HHS visits the jail twice each month to provide onsite enrollment assistance. This face-to-face interaction establishes a relationship and inmates leave jail knowing that there is a friendly face at HHS that can help navigate additional supports, such as food assistance, after release. Inmates with chronic mental health or medical conditions are prioritized higher and are identified by jail staff as high needs applicants.

Ms. Barb Halpin 
Public Information Officer

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