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How the Affordable Care Act can help prevent recidivism

Earlier this month, at a conference hosted by the Community Oriented Correctional Health Services and the journal Health Affairs, I had the opportunity to speak with a distinguished group of policymakers, researchers, and health care and criminal justice professionals about the implications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for those under correctional supervision. The fact is that the Affordable Care Act holds the promise of expanding health care coverage to uninsured Americans and potentially opens Medicaid enrollment to some 15 million low-income adults, including the millions of individuals who come into contact with our criminal justice system, of whom upwards of 90 percent are uninsured. This moment is an opportunity, uniquely positioned at the intersection of public health and public safety, to reform correctional health care, improve the health of our communities, and enhance public safety. It is an opportunity born of necessity, as leaders across the political spectrum seek ways to better align our criminal justice investments with outcomes that actually make us safer. At the Department of Justice, we understand that public health and public safety often walk hand-in-hand; that the public policy investments we make yield the greatest returns when they reflect the importance of that connection; and that key to making our communities safer is reducing recidivism by improving reentry, which in turn means


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