CMS Allows Additional Funding for Healthcare IT Improvements for Prisons


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released new guidance for correctional facilities that allows states to use state and federal Medicaid matching funding to provide better prerelease health care services to incarcerated people.Part of the guidance supports IT investments to improve record sharing within and outside of correctional health care facilities.

Correctional Facility Healthcare IT Upgrade

A new federal program aimed at helping prisons improve health outcomes for incarcerated individuals who are soon to be released is also providing funds for prison healthcare IT improvements. The CMS funding can be used for projects such as improving data integration to enable record sharing among correctional facilities, state Medicaid agencies, and community-based providers. Bettering the ability to share accurate health records for incarcerated patients is important as 95 percent of them are eventually released to rejoin society.

This effort is part of a broad program to provide improved prerelease healthcare such as case management, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and a 30-day supply of prescription medications.

Stepping up the care for this population is important as the United States has the world’s highest incarceration rate with 1.7 million people in state or federal prisons and local jails. Generally, incarcerated people also have substantially higher physical and mental health needs than the general population. More than half have a mental health problem or a substance abuse disorder, or both.

Tracking individuals across the life cycle, including during stays in jail or prison, is facilitated by robust and harmonized electronic health records and public insurance,” said co-author and Harvard Kennedy School public policy professor, Marcella Alsan in a new paper.

Enhanced federal financing for information technology to help prisons improve their healthcare IT systems.

The new guidance details potential opportunities for leveraging enhanced federal matching funds on information technology (IT) system expenditures necessary to support reentry efforts.

For example, states can claim enhanced federal financing for activities that:

  • Establish new (or enhance existing) IT data systems that support eligibility and enrollment processes.
  • Facilitate communication between correctional staff and Medicaid providers and managed care plans.
  • Enable claims processing, and/or upgrade electronic health record (EHR) platforms to align with Medicaid regulatory requirements.

CMS funding also will provide time-limited waiver financing for capacity building (such as hiring and training staff or IT system updates) and implementation planning. Questions about specific IT system expenditures can be directed to the MES State Officers.

California is first to receive funding and test expanded services model.

California is the first state to receive federal authority to offer a targeted set of Medicaid services to incarcerated enrollees up to 90-days prior to their release. The recent $410 million from CMS is being used for capacity-building funds to support investments in personnel, capacity, and/or prison healthcare IT that are needed for collaborative planning and implementation of prerelease service processes.

Currently, 14 states have pending requests before CMS, with other states expected to follow.

There is a trend within correctional facility healthcare to increase their capabilities for health record sharing that supports long-term continuity of care.

In Oregon.

An effort to implement a new EHR at the Oregon Department of Corrections paused to consider the 88 different solutions across the continuum of care in the state and the importance of having a “truly interoperable health system.”

In Texas.

Harris Health in Houston recently began providing healthcare in the Harris County Jail, the third-largest jail in the country that regularly houses 10,000 individuals. They used Epic’s Community Connect to share the same patient records and give clinicians working in the jail access to the same tools in Harris Health’s other facilities.

In Georgia.

A new Wellpath alliance with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the HI-BRIDGE Health Information Exchange will share real-time correctional patient health information to improve inmate patient care delivery across 70 Georgia corrections facilities.

As new EHR systems are introduced, legacy systems and records may be displaced.

With available funding and the push toward improved interoperability, more correctional facilities may choose to upgrade and replace their current EHR. When this happens, legacy records will need to be securely retained to meet regulatory and patient care requirements. Migrating 24 months of key clinical data elements to the new go-forward EHR and archiving the rest of the records is typically a best practice. This ensures ongoing access to historical records while enabling the decommissioning of the out-of-production system.

This consolidation effort ensures compliance with record retention laws and provides easy access and release of information flows.

If your correctional facility is considering a new EHR, our team can help.

Our active archive product, HealthData Archiver®, can handle legacy health data at correctional facilities.  The solution helps to reduce maintenance costs, improve security, and reduce system vulnerabilities.

Our team has ranked as the number one company for data archiving, data extraction and migration for four years in a row, according to Black Book™ Rankings, a division of Black Book™ Market Research.

We have worked with over 550 unique clinical, financial, and administrative software brands.

HealthData Archiver® gives users Single Sign-On integration with major EHRs like Epic, Oracle Cerner and MEDITECH – enabling patient context sharing, release of information workflows and revenue cycle features to offer a significant value for organizations decommissioning legacy systems.

Is your correctional facility ready to move forward?

We can help.


Sep 07 2023

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