Joint Committee Requests Audit To Examine Prison Health Care Costs
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee yesterday approved a request by two Assembly members to review prison contracts with hospitals to determine if the state is overpaying for inmates' health care, the Sacramento Bee reports. The audit, requested by Assembly members Rebecca Cohn (D-Saratoga) and Dario Frommer (D-Los Angeles), will examine how the Department of Corrections negotiates its health care contracts, the payment rates and types of contracts the department signs and its contract bidding process. The audit also will review claims from inmate hospitalizations and compare those costs against costs incurred by Medi-Cal, the Bee reports. Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, said the department is by "no means alone" in facing rising hospital costs and is "getting the best rates" possible. The audit's release date has not been set.
According to corrections department records, the price of health care varies widely among the 104 hospitals statewide that contract with prisons to provide treatment to inmates. In particular, Tenet Healthcare, which contracts with the state to provide inmate care, was a "major factor behind the rising cost of inmate hospitalizations" over the past three years, according to the Bee. The total cost of inmate care at Tenet facilities increased nearly twice as fast as the cost at non-Tenet hospitals; the average cost of an outpatient visit at a Tenet facility was $1,262, 80% higher than the average $700 cost of care at a non-Tenet facility (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 6/11).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.