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Prisoners need Medicaid to help with addiction

Michael Washington, left, of Baltimore says goodbye to nurse Elizabeth Spradley, right, in the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute REACH van, which is parked outside the Baltimore City Central Booking facility.
Michael Washington, left, of Baltimore says goodbye to nurse Elizabeth Spradley, right, in the Behavioral Health Leadership Institute REACH van, which is parked outside the Baltimore City Central Booking facility. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

I am primary care physician, a buprenorphine prescriber and have volunteered on the BHLI PCARE Van discussed in the article by Meredith Cohn (“Maryland made a plan to help people leaving prison get drug treatment — but it never used it,” Mar. 4). I applaud The Sun for highlighting this important issue.

Recently incarcerated individuals that come to the van are at high risk for addiction relapse and overdose death (“Get those released from prison on Medicaid quicker,” Mar. 4). They need and want treatment and deserve access to medication and primary care. Barriers to treatment — such as lack of insurance — cause significant societal harm. Without Medicaid insurance, these individuals are often abandoned by the health care system. Incorporating the Medicaid requirement as part of the discharge process can help ensure that a disenfranchised population receives the care that they deserve.

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Dr. Justin Berk, Baltimore

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