From TDCJ's Legislative Appropriations Request summary document (pdf), here's a tidbit on how much the Lege underfunded prison health care last biennium and the amount needed to make it whole at current prison population levels: "In an effort to operate within funding levels established for the 2012-13 biennium, significant operational changes were made" including "Reduced funding for offender health care by $132 million." Further:
According to the university providers, additional funding of $141 million is critical to maintain operations and ensure effective overall quality of care within the system. Of this amount, a projected $86 million is required to bring the base level of funding to the projected levels of 2014-15 expenses to be incurred for the delivery of services. Funding less than this level, which takes into account the rising costs of health care, could require elimination of services. University providers have drastically reduced staffing levels for many health care components and are encountering significant difficulties in the ability to recruit and retain the professional staff necessary to provide care at TDCJ correctional facilities. Consequently, $32 million is included in this request to provide market level salary adjustments to the offender health care delivery staff. The correctional health care system is also facing critical capital equipment needs for x-ray, dental and other equipment estimated to total $10 million. Finally, other initiatives at a cost of $13 million will provide primarily for the restoration of key health care staff such as nursing staff at targeted correctional units.Bottom line, the Lege underfunded prison healthcare by $132 million last biennium, ponying up about half that amount in emergency funding when UTMB threatened to stop providing services. Going forward, though, unless prison population levels decline, the Lege is looking at a nine-figure increase in prison healthcare spending.