State Considering Plan To Place UC in Charge of Prison Health System
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) administration is working on a proposal that would put the University of California in charge of the state's prison health care system, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The plan aims to reduce and eventually eliminate court-mandated federal oversight of California's prison health system.
The plan was proposed by the Texas-based consultant company NuPhysicia, whichÂ was hired by the stateÂ to review strategies for controlling prison medical costs.
The proposal calls for state lawmakers to create an agency comprising corrections administrators, federal court representatives and governor-appointed members. The agency would take responsibility for monitoring prison health spending and quality of care.
The UC system would create another agency with state prison physicians, dentists and psychiatrists. The UC agency would manage drug and equipment purchasing.
Another proposal would direct the state to purchase or build a central hospital to house and treat chronically ill inmates. The move could help reduce the state's use of correctional officers to transport and guard prisoners receiving care at local community hospitals.
The proposal also calls for a dramatic expansion of the use of telemedicine, electronic health records and bulk purchasing of prescription drugs.
J. Clark Kelso -- the federal court-appointed receiver who oversees California's prison health care system -- said he already has started undertaking some of these initiatives.
The proposal recommends introducing the UC partnership program at 11 Northern California prisons before expanding it to all 33 state prisons.
Potential Cost Savings
NuPhysicia says the proposed plan would help reduce state spending by at least $300 million in 2010 and by as much as $1.2 billion each year by 2014.
Kelso currently is working with the Schwarzenegger administration to reduce prison health care spending by more than $800 million in the next fiscal year.
Before it could move forward, the prison health plan requires approval from state lawmakers and federal judges overseeing lawsuits on inmate care.
Officials say the governor's office plans to work with lawmakers, Kelso and the judges on the proposal.
The UC system has not yet agreed to plan.
In addition, observers say unions for state prison employees could mount opposition to the proposal (Rothfeld, Los Angeles, 3/19).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.