A New Mexico legislator is trying to help inmates sign up for Medicaid around the state.
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino says his bill, Senate Bill 42, could help stop people from cycling in and out of jails and prisons. For people with addiction or mental health issues, he says, it’s nearly impossible to find affordable services if you’re not signed up for Medicaid. “If you apply the day you got out of jail, it would take a couple of weeks—at the fastest—before Medicaid could certify you as eligible for services,” he said. “Immediately the lure of the streets, the temptation of the needle or the camaraderie of the buddies kicks in, and they don’t get into treatment.”
Instead, Ortiz y Pino says, inmates should be able to sign up for Medicaid while they’re in jail, so the day they get out, they can go right into treatment. The senator says simply speeding up that process should make a big dent in New Mexico’s high recidivism rate.