Lawmakers Hear Presentations on Privatizing Prison Health Care

Private health care businesses say they could actually help Florida's budget.

Their plan to do so includes privatizing health care in the state's prison system.

Twenty-nine states outsource health care services for their prisons--including medical, dental, pharmacy and mental-health plans.

Monday, 3-28, private companies gave presentations to lawmakers in hopes of providing those services for Florida's prison system.

Florida has the third largest prison population in the country, and several companies are vying to be the one to take over the health care services of the some 100,000 inmates.

Monday, representatives from private companies gave presentations to the Florida House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

Rep. Ray Pilon/(R) Sarasota says the option should be looked out, but says a decision should be done carefully.

He said, "I don't support overall privatization of prisons everywhere and every service. I think we have to look at those individual things. When we're looking at health care, I think we need to go to the health care experts."

The companies say cost saving is one of the biggest reasons Florida should privatize prison health care.

The Senate's proposed bill is expected to save $75 million in savings from a proposed statewide privatization of health-care services for inmates, but that proposal isn't in the House version of the bill.

One company says for mental health services, it would cost less because privatizing would reduce self harm behaviors, assaults to staff, and off-site medical costs.

Tallahassee resident Nelson Mizrahi said, "Private companies should definitely take care of health care, in my opinion, for other matter. But, not for prison. For prison people, definitely leave it to the State."

Other promises, including better management of prison staff, cause concern for state workers' jobs.

Tallahassee resident Heather Stewart said, "I would feel really bad if they lost their job. The economy is so bad. People should be having jobs."

One of the companies did admit that privatizing Florida's prison health care would be challenging because of the state's uniquely large inmate population.

The presentations were for informational purposes. The subcommittee did not make any decisions.

We will be following the issue and keep everyone posted.

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  • by Insider Location: South Florida on Mar 30, 2011 at 07:30 AM
    The DOC already took back the operation of medical services two years ago from private health providers after even the conservative higer-ups saw that it was NOT saving money. The private company is only concerned with making money - hence, they don't want to provide health care for less money...they want to provide it for as much as possible! Mental health services are already handled by private companies. They are not decreasing self-injurious behaviors or assaults on staff. They hold group sessions with seriously mentally ill people as though schizophrenia will be cured by talking. Inmates are transported daily 200 miles across the state to see department paid specialists for 10 minutes (after waiting 3 hours for them to get off lunch). Inamgine how much it will cost when those private specialists are charging Rick Scott's prices! Oh, and the Department of Corrections already has mandatory drug testing for new hires and random testing for current employees. It's been like that for several years.
  • by Laci Location: Colorado on Mar 29, 2011 at 07:33 PM
    I am curious how these privatization plans are going to "stop self injurious behavior" - the plan of privatization doesnt just CHANGE the habits of mentally ill poeple. Come on.....get real. Privatizing healthcare costs MORE for the state.
  • by Ulterior Motive on Mar 29, 2011 at 09:16 AM
    Hmmm...what kind of business does our Governor have a stake in? Medical??? Mandatory drug testing now. Privatized Medical for Prisons? Sounds like when past Governor changed Prison Food Service to Aramark because of wife's interest in company. State wound up taking that back over because it wasn't feasible either. When will voters wise up and wake up?
  • by save money ? Location: smoke land on Mar 29, 2011 at 06:37 AM
    how do you think they will save money ? here is your band aid, here is your aspirin that's it !
  • by Surprise Location: leon county on Mar 29, 2011 at 03:09 AM
    Prisons? build em and the people will come.
  • by Need new leadership on Mar 28, 2011 at 07:47 PM
    The Senate and the House are both crafting bills now to privatize prisons and probation service in South Florida to take effect by 2012. Who will benefit from privatizing these services? Those corporations who have already bought and paid for the Governor and the legislature. So far nearly all of the States attempts to privatize have been a huge failure and will likely continue to be so. As longs as our politicians can continue reward the people that contribute to their campains they consider it a sucess. It is simply bad for the State to tie profits to public safety and the incarceration of our citizens.
  • by anonymis Location: fla on Mar 28, 2011 at 06:27 PM
    Hear! Hear! I second that opinion & want to tell the families, don"t send them your hard earned money, they get their basics already.
  • by BULL Location: FLORIDA on Mar 28, 2011 at 05:57 PM
  • by frustrated citizen of FLORIDA Location: TALLAHASSEE on Mar 28, 2011 at 05:48 PM
    Here is a little food for thought for the Florida Department of Corrections! Raise the amount of money Keefe is required to pay the state to run the canteens per inmate($.96 as of March 2009)! Inmates are now allowed to spend $100 a week…which means that if every inmate incaraceted in the Florida Department of Corrections (current population: 103,545 inmates and counting) and spends that amount every week, Keefe would profit at least $680 million dollars and would on be required to pay the state $37 million dollars! Require all non-indigent inmates to purchase their own shoes, underwear, over the counter medications and health and comfort items such as toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, etc. Just think, if inmates can spend up to $100 dollars a week on chips, cookies and drinks, they can take the burden of spend countless of amounts of money from the law abiding citizens of THE STATE OF FLORIDA!!!
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