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Dayton, OH, July 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- When ex-offenders are released from prison, they are 12.5 times more likely to die in the first two weeks after release than the average citizen.
Highly vulnerable in those first days of freedom, ex-offenders often lack necessities to get on their feet, like housing, income, food—even a driver’s license. Seventy percent are coping with a substance use disorder and 25 percent have a serious mental health illness. They face myriad of challenges in the path to achieving self-sufficiency and, without support, nearly 34 percent of adult ex-offenders in Indiana will return to prison within three years, according to the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC).
CareSource, a nonprofit health plan, is curbing those numbers through its Indiana Reentry Program. Now serving all 15 state-run prisons throughout Indiana, the program has served more than 700 ex-offenders since launching in 2017.
“When you come back into society, you come in at a disadvantage and with no resources,” said LaTwan Jackson, who was released from Plainfield Correctional Facility in fall 2016 after serving 15 years for attempted murder. “I had things I wanted and needed to do, but I had no direction.”
Among the first of its kind in the country, the pilot program with IDOC—which has a statewide program for enrolling eligible prisoners in Medicaid before release—aims to connect with prisoners before their release, educate about Medicaid health benefits and provide support after release for a seamless transition back to the community and to self-sufficiency.
“A health insurance company may seem like a surprising solution for reducing recidivism, but as a Medicaid managed care entity, CareSource serves Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens,” said Cameual Wright, M.D., CareSource’s Medical Director in Indiana. “We coordinate comprehensive medical care that includes mental health, physical health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as social needs such as nutrition, employment, housing and transportation issues that affect a person’s total health and well-being. We are uniquely positioned to dedicate resources to supporting the 16,000 ex-offenders returning to their communities each year.”
Programs providing immediate, comprehensive support of ex-offenders have the potential to reduce the country’s mass incarceration problem and save states money.
“Reentry programs that focus on the transition back into society, when ex-offenders are at their most vulnerable, have the potential to dramatically reduce recidivism,” said Jennifer Walthall, M.D., M.P.H., Secretary for the Family Social Services Administration. “CareSource is a leader in improving the lives of reentering citizens and strengthening our communities.”
After release, a returning citizen receives a health needs screening by CareSource’s reentry team, which creates a care plan based not only on the member’s unique medical and behavioral health needs, but also on their social needs and self-sufficiency goals. Members may also engage with a Life Coach through the CareSource JobConnect program, who provides support for their education and employment goals.
For Jackson, that meant getting help finding a job using the culinary arts skills he studied in prison, navigating computer-based applications for employment and applying to college. CareSource helped him apply for financial aid, and Jackson attended Ivy Tech for additional culinary classes while working full-time.
“My Life Coach, Becky, was the reason I got into college,” Jackson said. “Having a listening ear in a world where no one listens to former prisoners gave me the confidence I needed to become self-sufficient.”
Living in a transition home with low rent helped Jackson save money for a car; and one year ago, Jackson landed a job as a chef in a Marriott hotel kitchen and now receives employer-sponsored health insurance.
“The best thing about my life is going to work every day,” he said. “It’s such a miraculous feeling, earning my keep.”
While the orginal pilot started in two prisons, the reentry program is now in all 15 Indiana prisons due to the demand.
“Our initial plan to build processes to serve criminal justice-involved members has since evolved into a scalable model of care for returning citizens,” Wright said.
Preliminary data show that when CareSource engages with a returning citizen, he or she is:
CareSource plans to continue to extend the Reentry Program, adding to its cadre of 35 community partners and improving the process for offenders when applying for Medicaid.
CareSource is a nonprofit, multi state health plan recognized as a national leader in managed care. Founded in 1989, CareSource administers one of the nation’s largest Medicaid managed care plans and offers a lifetime of access to care through health insurance, including Medicaid, Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicare Advantage and Dual-Eligible programs.
Headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, CareSource serves nearly 2 million members in Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. CareSource understands the challenges consumers face navigating the health system and is transforming health care with industry-leading programs that improve the health and well-being of our members. For more, visit caresource.com, follow @caresource on Twitter, or like CareSource on Facebook.
Joseph Kelley CareSource 513-509-8466 firstname.lastname@example.org