Discount drug cards aim to reduce recidivism
Recovery Health Network helps recently released ex-offenders get back on their feet
By Ashley Garst
Undoubtedly the greatest task given to corrections officers is ensuring the convicted serve their sentences. But another significant challenge COs face is giving offenders the tools to not become reoffenders.
One program started by staff members at a treatment center in Los Angeles agrees with this sentiment, endeavoring to help those leaving prison or currently under probation.
The Recovery Health Network (RHN) aims at helping those who are re-entering society but don't have any kind of insurance. They offer a free prescription discount drug card, which gives individuals an easy and free ‘no strings attached’ healthcare discount program.
"The idea to come out with a discount pharmacy card developed when Craig [Miller, Facility Director] noticed that the majority of our population coming out of prison took medication," said Luke Chittick, Drug and Alcohol Counselor.
"I remember having to discharge a resident, because for him to be appropriate for treatment he needed to be med-compliant. This particular resident couldn't afford to continue to afford his medication. That was the tipping point."
RHN negotiated with drug companies, pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers in order to create their discount cards, and has donated more than two million cards to various correctional facilities across the United States including Wyoming, Florida, and Ohio.
The reentry goals of many DOCs is to match inmates and offenders with needed resources, such as being able to purchase much needed medication.
The cards are ordered through the DOC's re-entry programs to be part of ex-offenders' release packages. They are accepted at more than 96,000 chain and regional pharmacies across the country.
“I believe that one of the most important aspects in recidivism is conveying to each man or woman returning from prison that ‘you matter,’” Chittick said. “Handing someone a card assists them in one area of their financial situation and is a step in the right direction for lowering recidivism.”
The card itself is ‘frictionless,’ requiring no identification and no enrollment. Those who wish to participate in the program only need to have a doctor's prescription. The total discount can help an ex-offender save almost 94 percent on their prescriptions.
"Agencies we send cards to are so grateful and blown away by the program we offer," Chittick said. "One of my favorite things to do is read some of the emails I get back from re-entry workers, case managers, community centers, treatment centers, probation officers and wardens.
"There are those who just can't believe the Recovery Health Network is real."
Chittick said that RHN hopes to become the standard in every re-entry program, and in the hands of every probation worker, parole agent, and social worker in the U.S. For more information on RHN, visit their website at www.recoveryhealthnetwork.com.