Prison Receiver Seeks $7 Billion To Update, Expand Health Care for California Inmates

In a California Healthline Special Report, prison health care stakeholders weighed in on the state’s efforts to meet a federal order to bring its prison health care system up to constitutionally minimum standards.

The Special Report includes comments from:

  • Clark Kelso, the court-appointed prison health care receiver;
  • Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks);
  • Sen. Mike Machado (D-Linden); and
  • Nancy Paulus of the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Kelso has asked the Legislature to approve $6.9 billion in funding by summer to construct new facilities for prisoners with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or mental illness.

“The state really has not appropriately invested in the health care program within its prison in a good 25 or 30 years,” Kelso said, adding, “And a lot of that has to do with not investing in appropriate clinical space, not investing in appropriate housing space, for inmates who have long-term chronic sickness.”

Though lawmakers generally support the idea of reform in the prison health system, some are taking a hard look at the plan’s price tag.

Machado said the underlying issue is the need to manage the size of the state prison population, the largest in the nation. He plans to introduce a bill that would phase in funding while lawmakers considered ways to lower the number of inmates (Kennedy, California Healthline, 4/29).

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