The cost of providing health care to Texas' 154,000 imprisoned criminals during the next two years will likely exceed the amounts allocated in both the Senate- and House-approved versions of the state budget, a new financial analysis shows.The new figures counter an earlier "report that triggered intense criticism of the medical school and has prompted a lobbying rush by private companies who contend they can do the job for much less." Bottom line, the latest analysis found that:
The report on the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston's costs appears to validate the university's earlier assertions that it was losing money on providing the care, and it projects that the prison care could cost $930 million over the next two years — far more than either legislative chamber has appropriated so far.
In recent years, UTMB and Texas Tech have claimed losses totaling more than $60 million for providing the care, requiring supplemental appropriations several times from the Legislature.This should come as no surprise; it was predictable and predicted; Grits calculated when the budget passed that prison healthcare was underfunded by $126.5 million over the biennium, and here we are, facing projections right at that amount. The lesson: It's possible to significantly cut prison health costs, but not without reducing the size of the prison population. They can't just cut on paper; the state must change policies to reduce costs.
The new financial review projects that the losses will continue for UTMB. Texas Tech costs were not examined.
In 2010, the summary shows, UTMB lost as much as $26.8 million — with actual costs listed at $436.1 million, for which the university was paid only $409.3 million.
During the 2012-13 budget period, the report estimates, the costs for UTMB to provide prison health care could range from $879.6 million to as much as $930 million — depending on whether costs for some physicians, interns and residents are included.
Madden acknowledged that the numbers in the report are significant, "if they prove correct, which I think they will."