Criminal Justice Spillovers and Medicaid Expansion: Churning and Mental Health

Awarded Scholars:
Richard Frank, Harvard University
Thomas McGuire, Harvard University
Henry Steadman, Policy Research Associates
Lisa Callahan, Policy Research Associates
Project Date:
Jul 2017
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • November 2017: Additional funding of $42,546 awarded

Currently about 2.2 million people in the United States are in jail or prison and another 4.7 million are on probation or parole. Individuals leaving jails or prisons have high rates of health, mental health and substance abuse problems that make it difficult for them to obtain housing, employment and social support. In turn, these difficulties increase the likelihood of re-arrest and re-incarceration. 

The Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) significantly increased access to insurance for low-income non-elderly adults, including many single men involved with the correctional system. Richard Frank and Thomas McGuire, with colleagues at Policy Research Associates, will examine the extent to which the Medicaid expansion lowers rates of re-arrest and re-incarceration among the recently released. They will exploit state variation in Medicaid expansion and examine the experience of three pairs of urban areas in adjoining states, one of which expanded Medicaid and one that did not, in order to examine how the ACA affected rates of recidivism.


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