ACA Implementation Work: Expertise through Practice
Men and women involved in the justice system have far higher rates of physical health problems, mental illness, and substance use disorders than do adults in the general public. As a result, state and local courts, jails, and prisons spend massive resources on healthcare, and individuals cycle in and out of justice systems with untreated health conditions. Providing access to healthcare for justice-involved populations saves correctional healthcare costs and advances both public health and public safety.
For four decades, TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) has worked with jails, prisons, and court systems across Illinois to provide case management for individuals as they leave these systems. TASC’s direct service experience informs the state and national consulting, training, and public policy work of the agency’s Center for Health and Justice.
By facilitating access to substance use and mental health treatment and recovery for thousands of people each year, TASC has an established history of serving justice systems, reducing recidivism, and helping individuals rebuild their lives. TASC also has witnessed decades of community-based health services insufficient to meet the breadth of health needs among justice-involved populations, and recognizes that health reform creates unprecedented opportunities to improve access to medical and behavioral health treatment.
Given the health care coverage options provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), TASC and its Center for Health and Justice, in partnership with numerous public and private partners at national, state, and local levels, are working to align health insurance coverage and linkage to behavioral health care at every point in the justice system—arrest, pre-trial, jail, court/sentencing, and probation/parole supervision—in order to reduce recidivism and improve individual and community health on a broad scale.
In 2012, Illinois filed an 1115 waiver to expand Medicaid to childless adults in Cook County one year ahead of the rest of the state. The waiver was approved in fall 2012, and the first “CountyCare” member was approved in February 2013. With its extensive, on-the-ground experience connecting justice and behavioral health systems in Illinois, TASC was uniquely positioned to provide consultation to system partners and stakeholders in their implementation efforts, and the County partnered with TASC to facilitate its ACA implementation planning process. Because of this early expansion of Medicaid, TASC and its partners in Cook County have been at the forefront of ACA implementation in the justice system statewide and beyond.