Chairperson Sen. Lathrop and Judiciary Committee Board Members
District #12, Room 1103 State Capitol
PO Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
January 26, 2022
Dear Senator Lathrop and Judiciary Committee Members,
My name is Jasmine L. Harris. I am the Director of Public Policy & Advocacy for RISE. I request that this testimony be included as part of the public hearing record that shows RISE is in support of LB952.
RISE is the largest nonprofit organization in Nebraska focused solely on habilitative programming in prisons and reentry support. At RISE, transformation starts pre-release and continues post-release. Our inside/out model bridges incarceration to the community and considers all the critical steps in that journey. We prepare and train people for each phase through intensive character development, employment readiness, job creation through entrepreneurship, family programming and case management. We transform people in the community by building awareness and empathy that leads to support and opportunity. These connections heal families, create employment pathways and lower recidivism. The mission of RISE is to break generational cycles of incarceration.
We thank Sen. John Cavanaugh for introducing this bill. LB952 addresses the problem that we see where there is an interruption in healthcare as individuals are returning to communities after incarceration. We know that there has been work over the years to ensure people leave with medications and a refill that should be able to last until they are able to see a provider in the community, but this isn’t always the case. If individuals are not enrolled in medicaid or an insurance plan on day one of release, there is a gap in time from applying for benefits until they see a provider. With reentry being considered a crisis for many, returning to communities experiencing homelessness or unemployed/underemployed, filling out paperwork for medicaid benefits may not take a top priority on the list of things to do in that first week.
This bill will ensure immediate access to medical and behavioral healthcare that would:
● allow people to get medication adjustments as soon as possible
● allow individuals to address physical and mental health problems that were not taken care of
● lower the use of emergency rooms by formerly incarcerated individuals as their main form of
Healthcare is a basic need and if that's not taken care of, having a successful reentry can be a struggle for many. Someone can't focus on looking for work or maintaining employment if their mental health needs are not addressed or if they have unmanaged chronic illnesses. And that can lead into further decline of their health and even substance use.
The fiscal note stated there would need to be a social worker placed at every facility to implement this process. This bill also addresses that 3rd party enrollment assisters can provide the enrollment assistance and application submission. There are many organizations that are ready to make this process happen as I have had conversations with many of these organizations trying to determine how they can make this happen. Right now we are working with Healthy Blue to ensure medicaid access for our program participants who are released. It would be great to see our participants with access to medical and behavioral health on day one of them leaving facilities.
RISE supports LB952 and asks that committee members vote this bill out of committee to General File.
Jasmine L. Harris, MPH, CHES
Director of Public Policy & Advocacy, RISE