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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois prison officials estimate nearly 30,000 newly freed inmates will be eligible for Medicaid coverage in 2014 under President Barack Obama's health care law.

The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports

state officials say better access to care for physical and mental health issues may help parolees succeed outside of prison.

The Department of Corrections plans eventually to help inmates connect with Medicaid before they're released, so they can make a smooth transition into the state and federal health care program for the poor.

Illinois is among about 26 states planning to expand Medicaid benefits to childless adults under the Affordable Care Act. Last year's Supreme Court decision upheld the law, but made Medicaid expansion optional for states.

Many parolees in the past didn't qualify for Medicaid benefits.

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Information from: The Pantagraph,

http://www.pantagraph.com

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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