Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to sign thousands of convicts up for taxpayer-financed Medicaid, which they will receive once they leave prison, according to the New York Post.
The proposal would have all inmates apply for the public health insurance while still incarcerated, according to state Department of Health officials. Those who meet the income requirements would be placed on Medicaid once they are released from prison.
“It’s an extremely liberal approach to benefit prisoners. It shouldn’t be ‘Medicaid on demand.’ It gives the prisoners no incentive to get a job so they can get their own health insurance. This is unfair to the hardworking taxpayers of New York,” state Conservative Party chairman Mike Long told the Post.
The DOH says that the program would help curb the spread of diseases contracted in prison.
“The incidences of communicable and noncommunicable diseases tend to be higher in the prison population. It also prevents unnecessary spread of illness in the community,” said Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, chairwoman of DOH’s Public Health and Planning Council panel.
According to the Post, the DOH declined to say many released prisoners would receive health benefits, but 2010 saw the discharge of 25,308 inmates. In contrast, 2.2 million New Yorkers statewide are uninsured.