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Mental Illness & Criminal Justice in Florida: The Case for Medicaid Expansion

Too many Floridians with mental illnesses struggle to find the care they need. Nearly one-fifth of Floridians (17.5%) aged 18 and older have a mental illness, and over 7% of Florida's adults have a substance use disorder. Well over half a million adults in Florida experience serious mental illness.

Floridians with mental illness face significant obstacles in accessing necessary and appropriate health care. In fact, almost 60% of adults with mental illness in Florida do not receive treatment. In a national measure of access to mental health care that includes access to insurance, access to treatment, quality and cost of insurance, and workforce availability, Florida ranked 40 out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. Furthermore, Florida ranks 49th in total spending on services for the mentally ill.

Why Florida Needs Medicaid Expansion

  • Uninsurance rates declined among justice involved individuals of all ages by nearly 10 percentage points following expansion in states that have expanded Medicaid.

  • Medicaid coverage significantly improved treatment rates for substance use and depression among justice-involved individuals. A study from Pinellas County, FL found that among people with severe mental illness who were released from jail, those who were enrolled in Medicaid at the time were more likely to access community mental health and substance abuse services.

  • Connection to healthcare has also been shown to reduce rates of recidivism. A Michigan intervention found that rates of recidivism fell by more than half when newly released prisoners were connected to a medical home and helped to access needed medications and care.

  • Medicaid expansion could save the state up to $57.5 million in inpatient hospital care of incarcerated individuals.

  • Medicaid expansion could save Florida up to $200 million dollars currently used for mental health and substance use services for uninsured Floridians with low income, including formerly incarcerated individuals, who would now be eligible for Medicaid.

  • Expansion would improve public safety and reduce unnecessary, expensive incarceration.

Take Action – Email FL Reps in Support of Medicaid Expansion for Mental Health

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