Starting in January, many of the 650,000 inmates released from prison each year will be eligible for health care via Medicaid, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, reports Stateline. A sizeable portion of the nearly 5 million ex-offenders who are on parole or probation at any given time also will be covered. The expansion of Medicaid, a key provision of the health care reform law, is the main vehicle for delivering health insurance to former prisoners. Researchers and those who advocate on behalf of ex-convicts hail the change as monumental, saying it will help address the generally poor health of ex-offenders, reduce medical costs, and possibly keep them from sliding back into crime. “It potentially revolutionizes the criminal justice system and health system,” said criminologist Faye Taxman of George Mason University. “We now have a golden opportunity to develop and implement quality interventions to both improve health outcomes for this population and also reduce the rate of criminal activity.” New York, Oklahoma, Florida, Illinois, and California are among states that already have pre-release programs aimed at connecting at least some outgoing prisoners with Medicaid.