Re-entry simulation aims to improve understanding of post-release life in Rhode Island

1115 waivers give states the flexibility to design and improve their Medicaid programs in ways that demonstrate approaches to better serving Medicaid populations.1 Rhode Island is currently pursuing a 1115 waiver to provide Medicaid coverage for incarcerated individuals 30 days prior to their release from state custody. In preparation for this support, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Rhode Island invested $3,500 in a re-entry simulation training that took place March 12, 2024.

The 30-day period outlined in the 1115 demonstration will allow for managed care enrollment and access to the full set of Medicaid benefits to support re-integration and improve access to care upon release. Research shows that pre-release Medicaid enrollment assistance increases the likelihood of outpatient healthcare visits.2 In addition to medical services, Rhode Island Medicaid coverage will provide formerly incarcerated individuals with a variety of services targeting social drivers of health to support community integration. To better understand how to help the justice-involved community, simulation participants worked with the Center for Health and Justice Transformation (CHJT) at Lifespan.

CHJT is a non-partisan research, advocacy, education and policy organization developed by a collaboration between Lifespan (Rhode Island’s health system) and Brown University.3 CHJT has dedicated projects and trainings focused on decriminalization, criminal justice planning and re-entry. Given that approximately one-third of Rhode Islanders have a criminal record, CHJT’s re-entry simulation training aims to help participants gain a better understanding of the obstacles faced by previously incarcerated individuals re-entering their communities.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Rhode Island staff participating in the simulation were first provided with a fictional identity and a packet of materials. This packet included a description of the fictional individual’s criminal background, living situation, job/income situation and weekly post-release requirements. The 90-minute simulation was comprised of 15-minute sections that each represented one week of post-release experiences. The event took place in a room with various stations representing a place the participants would visit, such as treatment, probation, social services and court. The simulation team, comprised of volunteers from the community, staffed the stations and provided obstacles and assistance for the participants to navigate. An emcee facilitated the experience and debriefed the event with a group discussion to identify ways for participants, practices and policies to be more inclusive of individuals who are justice-involved.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Rhode Island is committed to improving health outcomes and successful re-entry for recently released individuals. Aligned with Rhode Island’s goals of increasing Medicaid enrollment and primary care utilization following incarceration, the health plan aims to make the transition process easier and more effective.

Learn more about how the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Rhode Island is impacting the local community by visiting the profile page

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