Crow Wing Co. Supports Giving Jail Detainees Access to Federal Health Benefits
The Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners has approved a resolution supporting a change to federal law that would give jail detainees the right to health benefits.
The resolution states that giving detainees access to federal health benefits (such as Medicare and Medicaid) while they are presumed innocent and are awaiting trail aligns with an individual’s constitutional rights. Access to federal health benefits for non-convicted individuals would allow for improved health care and would decrease short-term costs for local taxpayers.
There are about 58 pre-trial detainees from Crow Wing County housed in the jail currently. Of those screened, 43% report mental health needs, with another 30% reporting substance use disorders.
“So why is this a problem?” asked Crow Wing County community services director Kara Terry at a recent county board meeting. “Well, as we know, our local jails have become our one-stop treatment centers, and are some of our largest behavioral health providers in our community. Our national mental health crisis is also concentrated in our county jails, so it’s not just a matter of Crow Wing County’s issue, but a national issue.”
Ultimately, federal legislators would still need to change the law to give detainees access to federal health benefits.