Governor Supports Prison Health Care Reform
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Wednesday said he was in "total agreement" with reforms recommended by the court-appointed receiver overseeing the prison health care system, the Sacramento Bee reports (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 9/21).
Receiver Robert Sillen on Tuesday said he will call for 500 emergency beds within six months and a total of 5,000 beds for medical treatment within five years, the AP/San Diego Union Tribune reports (Thompson, AP/San Diego Union Tribune, 9/20). Sillen has "exclusive control" over $100 million in fiscal year 2007-2008 and can seek approval from U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson for additional state funds to implement changes.
Sen. Mike Machado (D-Stockton) said providing an additional 5,000 beds for health care in the prison system would cost $600 million "at a minimum." Machado was chair of the Select Committee on Prison Population, Management and Capacity during a special Legislative session on prison issues.
According to Machado, Sillen "can trump the state" and mandate disbursements from the state general fund to implement his recommendations if the Legislature does not approve funding for them (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 9/20).
Schwarzenegger said that if the Legislature does not approve funding for the reforms, Henderson could allocate funds from the state general fund, which pays for health care, education and other programs. Schwarzenegger supports issuing revenue bonds to help fund the reforms (Sacramento Bee, 9/21).
Rachel Kagan, a spokesperson for Sillen, said he had not estimated the cost of prison health care reforms. She said the new beds could be housed in new prison hospitals that could be built throughout California.
In his 57-page bimonthly report to Henderson, Sillen said he would consult the court-appointed receiver of the prison mental health care system to determine whether an additional 5,000 beds are needed for mental health care in the state prison system.
Sillen also notes that consultants likely will call for the construction of medical care and inmate reception facilities at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 9/20).