August 5, 2020
Ms. Elaine M. Howle, State Auditor
California State Auditor
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Ms. Howle:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) submits this letter in response to the California State Auditor’s (CSA) audit of CDCR’s community-based Integrated Services for Mentally Ill Parolees (ISMIP) program.
CDCR takes seriously its role in providing reintegration services to mentally ill parolees. With the 2020 State Budget Act phasing out the ISMIP program by January 1, 2021, CDCR has been in active communication with county representatives on transitioning current ISMIP parolee participants to alternative services to mitigate lapses in care and housing.
The report finds that if CDCR had been able to accomplish additional ISMIP contracts with counties, the State could have saved on ISMIP costs by way of leveraging the federal Medicaid system. Although many attempts were made to increase federal reimbursements for specialty mental health services, CDCR cannot accomplish this without county partnerships. With the recent removal of the parolee exclusion in the Mental Health Services Act, and planned elimination of the ISMIP program, the likelihood that parolees will receive specialty mental health services from county providers has increased. Since counties leverage federal reimbursement for specialty mental health services, additional savings to the state should occur without CDCR funding the services directly.
CDCR is appreciative of the audit team’s extensive review and ability to be flexible during this unprecedented time as many CDCR and CSA staff telework, while maintaining operations and navigating new and additional workloads in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDCR will address the recommendations in a corrective action plan within the timelines of the report. If you have further questions, please contact me at (916) 323-6001.
Ralph M. Diaz