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Improve Lives | Establish Continuity of Care Plans for Incarcerated Individuals Diagnosed with a Substance Use Disorder, Mental Health, or Chronic Care Condition


Currently, 96% of incarcerated individuals will release back into the community. Unfortunately, the traditionalrecidivism ratehas indicated that approximately 30% of those releasing have returned to prison within three years of their release. A concerted effort to ensure continuity of care plans are in place when an individual releases from prison is crucial to the person’s success in the community. When people have control of their health, they have a means to manage their chronic conditions, the issues that brought them to prison, their chances of holding a job and succeeding at school, and an increased chance of reconnecting with their family.

Health Services Division has been assisting incarcerated persons with the Medicaid application process to ensure they have health care benefits available to them upon release. Most eligible individuals preparing for reentry participate in the application process. Through the state’s Medicaid data, individuals that receive Medicaid benefits upon release can be identified whenever they access health services in the community. We are interested in comparing those that apply for benefits prior to release with those that access services in the first six months of reentry.

How We Measure

The Department of Corrections aims to establish care plans for 40% of incarcerated individuals diagnosed with a substance use disorder, mental health, or chronic care condition by 2023. As part of this effort, the Department aims to submit a Medicaid application for at least 85% of individuals prior to their release from a prison facility.

Increase Continuity of Care

Percentage rate of individuals releasing with Medicaid applications submitted (December 2019)

On track

This statistic describes the number of individuals who are released from prison facility with a completed Medicaid application as a percentage of the total number of individuals released in that quarter. Individuals releasing from non-prison facilities, such as reentry centers, are not including in this measure although they receive the same application assistance.

Continuity of Care Rates

Factors that Support Continuity of Care

Timely Medicaid application sessions at the facilities prior to release

During the period of incarceration, time is set aside to apply for medicaid.

Medicaid eligibility of the applicant

Depending on how much the applicant makes, how much outside support they have, and other factors the incarcerated individual may or may not qualify for medicaid.

Community clinics and other health services in the county of release

Some parts of the state have more healthcare support infrastructure than others. Individuals releasing to areas with fewer resources may have a more challenging time receiving services.

Continuity of care from department health services to community providers

When the Department of Corrections communicates with community clinics and doctors and ensures a smooth transition, we maximize the chances of the individual's success.

Data sharing to identify how often patients use community health resources

The Washington State Health Information Exchange contains information regarding patients who received care in the community. Determining who received care after release can assist the department in identifying whether our strategies are working.

Actions Being Taken to Deliver Results