Report recommends reform of outsourced prison health care

LANSING — After nine months of study, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, a contractor hired by the state, offered numerous recommendations for improving health services in Michigan prisons, according to the Associated Press.

Currently, most health services for inmates are provided under a central contract with Correctional Medical Services, a large multi-state provider of services to prisons. One of the recommendations is that there should be stricter monitoring by the state of the contract provisions.

Productivity concerns were also raised. Prison doctors see an average of eight to 12 patients a day, but the study’s authors recommend that they see 20. The lack of productivity is partly due to electronic documentation that takes far too long, the AP reported.

The Department of Corrections has responded to a number of these suggestions and will adjust some of its contract policies. The department met with more than 50 vendors for input on structuring a request for proposals.

The annual cost of prison health care is nearly $300 million, according to the AP. Health care costs have been increasing and are up by 40 percent from fiscal year 2003.

“Health care in the big house,” The Big Rapids Pioneer, Jan. 23, 2008