John Rutherford, Paul Tonko Team Up on the Reentry Act

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, R-Fla., is backing U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko’s, D-NY, “Reentry Act.” along with Mike Turner (OH-10), and David Trone (MD-06), introduced the Reentry Act, bipartisan legislation

The bill “empowers states to restore access to healthcare, including addiction and mental health treatment through Medicaid, for incarcerated individuals up to 30 days before their release” and “addresses alarming data which shows individuals released from incarceration are 129 times more likely to die of a drug overdose during the first two weeks after release.”

Other backers include U.S. Reps. David Trone, D-Mary., and Mike Turner, R-Ohio.

“Continuity of care for those leaving the prison system has been an ongoing focus of mine. Throughout my time in law enforcement I saw many individuals reoffend time and time again as they struggled to break the cycle of substance abuse,” said Rutherford. “I’m proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in creating a pathway for individuals who are released from prison to receive the mental health and addiction support they need. This legislation is smart on crime, saves lives, and reduces recidivism.”

“Communities across the nation are grappling with devastating, and worsening impacts of the overdose crisis, and for individuals returning home from incarceration, the dangers of this epidemic are exponentially greater,” said Tonko. “By restarting benefits for Medicaid-eligible Americans prior to release, the bipartisan Reentry Act takes swift, needed action to combat the disease of addiction and bring targeted treatment to the people who face the most immediate risk. In short, our bill will save lives, lower costs, and reduce recidivism. I urge Congress to join us in advancing the Reentry Act without delay to combat the disease of addiction and provide hope to our communities.”

“Recidivism and rates of overdose are disproportionately high among those who have recently been released from prison. The Reentry Act permits eligible incarcerated persons to begin receiving Medicaid benefits 30 days prior to their release from prison so that they can begin treatment for substance abuse during an especially vulnerable period. I am proud to introduce this important legislation that will save lives by helping communities in Ohio and across the country combat the opioid epidemic,” said Turner.

“As the co-founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force, I’m proud to be joining Representatives Tonko, Turner, and Rutherford in introducing the Reentry Act as our first task force bill,” said Trone. “Studies show that incarcerated individuals suffer from a mental health condition or a substance use disorder at very high rates. If we want these folks to have the best chance of successfully reentering society, we must ensure they have access to basic needs like health care. The Reentry Act sets returning citizens up for success and saves lives.”

More than 60 groups are backing the bill which was sent to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. So far, there is no companion bill over in the U.S. Senate.

Kevin Derby
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