NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

TEXAS A MODEL FOR PRISON HEALTH CARE

August 6, 2004

The Texas prison population doubled between 1980 and the early 1990s, bringing with it the challenge of providing quality medical care to inmates, particularly an increasing number of women and those over age 50.

However, the Texas Correctional Health Care Model, implemented in 1994, has been shown to provide quality care for Texas' 145,000 inmates and reduce costs as well, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association:

  • Aids-related deaths among inmates decreased from 1.5 per 1000 in 1995 to 0.24 deaths per 1000 in 2002.
  • Asthma-related deaths among inmates declined from 3.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1995 to none in 2002.
  • The mean blood glucose level for inmates with type 1 diabetes declined from 229.7 mg/dL in 1004 to 188.2 mg/dL in 2003.
  • During the first six years of the program, the state saved an estimated $215 million.

The main features of the program include contractual agreements between the state's prison system and two academic medical centers, the University of Texas Medical Branch and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, which provide all medical and psychiatric care. The program is managed by an appointed committee, the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee, which consists of 9 total members representing the public, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the 2 academic medical centers.

The program is funded by the state, but the CMHCC committee allocates funds to the University of Texas and Texas Tech based on the number of prisoners treated, while the TDJC monitors the quality of care received by inmates. Additionally, the University of Texas Medical Branch uses "telemedicine" (treating patients via telecommunications equipment), which enables doctors to provide quick access to medical care for a sprawling prison system and reduces the cost of transporting inmates.

Source: Ben G. Raimer, MD, and John D. Stobo, MD, "Health Care Delivery in the Texas Prison System: The Role of Academic Medicine," Journal of the American Medical Association, July 28, 2004.

 

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