California Prison Health Care Receiver Presents Lower-Cost Options
On Friday, California prison health care receiver J. Clark Kelso filed a report with a federal judge detailing lower-cost options for the state to raise prison medical care to a constitutional level, the Oakland Tribune reports (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 2/6).
Kelso's new proposals came after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Attorney General Jerry Brown (D) criticized Kelso's plans for being exorbitant.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson removed the prison medical system from state control more than two years ago after concluding that health care did not meet constitutional standards.
Brown and Schwarzenegger have asked Henderson to terminate the receivership and restore state authority over prison health care (California Healthline, 2/4).
Kelso's report outlined three options, including his original proposal to build seven new facilities to house about 10,000 treatment beds for inmates with mental and physical health conditions.Â Construction would cost about $6 billion, and annual operating costs would be about $1.39 billion (Oakland Tribune, 2/6).
Kelso also outlined:
- A plan that would build five new facilities to house 7,536 treatment beds, including some for inmates with mental illnesses.Â Construction would cost $4.3 billion, and annual operating costs would be about $823 million.
- A proposal to build three facilities for 5,000 treatments beds dedicated to inmates with physical health conditions.Â Construction would cost $2.5 billion, and annual operating costs would be $480 million (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 2/7).
Kelso said the least expensive option would require the state to address prison mental health care separately (Oakland Tribune, 2/6).
Kelso said, "Our intention is to simply put this issue before the public and the courts and see what the reactions are." He added, "We're trying to present the best available options to the state, the plaintiffs and the court."
Kelso said his lower-cost options take into account the state budget deficit, projected to hit $40 billion by mid-2010 (Ventura County Star, 2/7).
Matthew Cate, secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the plans overestimate how many medical beds are needed to bring prison health care up to a constitutional standard.Brown said the plan is "not grounded in common sense" and includes "redundant, excessive spending at a time of fiscal crisis" (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 2/6). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.