UC Forms Committee To Study Takeover of Prison Health Care System
On Thursday, the University of California's Board of Regents announced the formation of a special committee to study whether UC should take over the state's prison health care system, the AP/Ventura County Star reports.
The committee will examine issues, such as:
- Effect on labor relations; and
- Liability issues.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has endorsed the proposal of giving UC control of the state's prison health care system as a way to curb the cost of providing health care at the state's 33 adult prisons.
NuPhysicia, a University of Texas-affiliated consultant company, estimated that California could save $4 billion over five years and $12 billion over 10 years by shifting control of the prison health care system to UC (Thompson, AP/Ventura County Star, 3/26).
The proposal faces opposition from the prison guards union and prison physicians (Gordon, Los Angeles Times, 3/26).
The proposal would direct the state to purchase or build a central hospital to house and treat inmates with chronic diseases, reducing the need for correctional officers to transport and guard prisoners receiving care at local community hospitals.
The proposal also calls for a significant expansion of the use of telemedicine, electronic health records and bulk purchasing of prescription drugs (California Healthline, 3/19).
The plan would place the university in charge of hiring and managing doctors, dentists, psychiatrists and possibly pharmacists.
The proposal recommends centralizing management of medical, dental and mental health for prisoners, beginning with 11 Northern California prisons. The plan calls for expanding the new system to all 33 facilities within two years (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 3/25).
The UC Board of Regents was scheduled to discuss the proposal on Thursday, but delayed it for at least two months to allow the newly formed committee to review the plan and other alternatives (Los Angeles Times, 3/26).
Sharon Aungst -- chief deputy secretary for the corrections department's Division of Health Care Services -- said that administration officials briefed legislative aides on the proposal on Thursday and that they will consult with the judges that oversee prison medical, mental health and dental care (AP/Ventura County Star, 3/25).
The proposal would need approval from J. Clark Kelso -- the federal court-appointed receiver who oversees California's prison health care system (Los Angeles Times, 3/26). Â Kelso has yet to comment on the plan (AP/Ventura County Star, 3/25).
On Thursday, KQED's "The California Report" included a segment on the proposal to give UC control of the state's prison health care system ("The California Report," KQED, 3/25).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.