Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Texas underspends on prison healthcare

More from the TDCJ Sunset hearing:

Texas is "very close" to not providing a "constitutional level" of healthcare because we're spending the same amount today on healthcare we spent in 2002, said a rep from the Correctional Managed Healthcare Committee.

The state's having a huge problem finding doctors and especially nurses to work at prisons - private practice pays more, and some hospitals are paying $5,000 signing bonuses for nurses. Given those options, what RN would choose to work in a prison?

Thanks to longer sentences, the Sunset Advisory Commission was told that the number of inmates over 50 years old in Texas prisons is increasing 10% per year. Inmates over 50 access healthcare three times as often as younger inmates, and cost five times as much per inmate in health expenses. A few inmates incur huge costs. Last year, said Chairman Whitmire, two inmates cost Texas more than $1 million.

Healthcare costs for Texas inmates are $7.65 per inmate per day, or around $1.2 million a day. Here are some daily per-inmate costs cited by staff from several other states:

California: $16.60
New York: $14.16.
Florida: $10.60
Pennsylvania: $12.02
New Jersey: $13.87
Georgia: $9.31
Oklahoma: $7.20

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