mike koozmin/the s.f. examinerState prisons chief Jeffrey A. Beard

mike koozmin/the s.f. examinerState prisons chief Jeffrey A. Beard

SF jail could become Obamacare signup station

Pay your debt to society and get free health care.

Since October, The City has been using County Jail time as a chance to enroll indigent people in Healthy San Francisco, the program offering health coverage for the uninsured.

And with Medi-Cal eligibility expanded under the Affordable Care Act in January, that experiment is now set to expand.
Currently, inmates are asked upon release if they would like to sign up for health care benefits. Health officials also periodically visit the inmates’ housing pods seeking enrollees.

The Sheriff’s Department would be able to start the enrollment process even sooner if legislation designating the sheriff as the official entity to help inmates sign up for health care is approved today.

The idea is that upon release, the formerly incarcerated would be enrolled and given the ability to see a doctor the second they exit the jail.

Providing health care could also help prevent crime, “especially those suffering from substance abuse disorders and mental illness,” Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said.
[jump]

“Decades have proven higher recidivism rates due to the absence of health care for newly released inmates and the formerly incarcerated,” Mirkarimi said.

About 350 former inmates have applied for either Healthy SF or Medi-Cal since the fall, said Ali Riker, the Sheriff’s Department’s director of programs. But the sign-up process is slow and cumbersome, and it involves a separate agency inputting paper forms into a computer.

The process would be streamlined and digitized if the Board of Supervisors approves the plan.

The City offers psychiatric and substance abuse care to inmates via Jail Health Services. Continuing treatment once inmates are released could save money and reduce crime, Riker said.

People with health care are more likely to seek drug and alcohol treatment and less likely to re-offend, she said.

“We want to make sure that care can continue once they’re back in the community,” she said. 
Bay Area Newshealth careHealthy San FranciscoSan Francisco Sheriff’s DepartmentUnder the Dome

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco Police officers speak with people while responding to a call outside a market on Leavenworth Street in the Tenderloin on Tuesday, June 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SFPD makes the case for more officers, citing Walgreens video

Most of us have seen the video. It shows a man filling… Continue reading

A 14-Mission Muni bus heads down Mission Street near Yerba Buena Gardens. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Pandemic experiments morph into long-term solutions for SF transit agency

The streets of San Francisco became real-time laboratories for The City’s public… Continue reading

NO CONNECTION TO SERVER:
Unable to connect to GPS server ‘blackpress.newsengin.com’
Debate reignites over San Francisco’s first public bank

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, momentum was building for San Francisco to… Continue reading

Apprenticeship instructor Mike Miller, center, demonstrates how to set up a theodolite, a hyper-sensitive angle measuring device, for apprentices Daniel Rivas, left, Ivan Aguilar, right, and Quetzalcoatl Orta, far right, at the Ironworkers Local Union 377 training center in Benicia on June 10, 2021. (Courtesy Anne Wernikoff/CalMatters)
California’s affordable housing crisis: Are labor union requirements in the way?

By Manuela Tobias CalMatters California lawmakers introduced several bills this year that… Continue reading

Mayor London Breed spoke at the reopening of the San Francisco Public Library main branch on April 20. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to The Examiner)
SF reopening more libraries through the summer

After a handful of San Francisco public libraries reopened last month for… Continue reading

Most Read