Prison Health Worker Pay Increases Recommended
The federal receiver overseeing state prison health care reforms on Tuesday recommended to a federal judge that salaries of prison health care workers be increased by up to 64% in some cases, the AP/San Francisco Examiner reports.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson appointed Robert Sillen as receiver in February to oversee changes in the system where an average of one inmate per week died as a result of medical neglect or malpractice.
Sillen recommended increasing wages by between 5% and 64% to fill vacancies and retain qualified workers. If approved, the plan would cost as much as $24 million annually, but Sillen said the state could save money as vacancies are filled and there is less reliance on temporary workers who are paid more per hour than permanent workers (AP/San Francisco Examiner, 9/12). According to Sillen, the state spent about $90 million on contract health care workers for prisons in fiscal year 2005-2006 (Richman, Oakland Tribune, 9/13).
Pharmacists would receive the largest pay increase -- a maximum 64% -- from about $76,000 to $124,000 annually. Physicians could see pay increase to $300,000 annually, and nurse salaries would increase by up to 35%, from about $79,000 to $107,000. Other health care workers also would receive increases (AP/San Francisco Examiner, 9/12).
The raises would be retroactive to Sept. 1.
Officials for the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) have indicated support for the move (Oakland Tribune, 9/13).
California "should be embracing Sillen's efforts to raise" prison health care "to acceptable standards," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states, adding that "Sillen must use every means possible to attract and retain quality health care professionals for the prison health care system," including more competitive wages (San Jose Mercury News, 9/13).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.