Consultant: No Benefit to Privatizing Prison's Health Care

Consultant: No Benefit to Privatizing Prison's Health Care

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Privatizing medical services at the Utah State Prison -- an idea dear to some legislators -- would not improve current inmate care and probably would not result in significant savings to the state, a consultant has concluded.

"By continuing on its current path under existing management ... the (Utah Department of Corrections) health program will continue to improve and serve as a model program for other correctional systems to follow," according to a final draft of a report by Jacqueline Moore and Associates.

"We do not recommend privatization at this time," she said.

The draft was obtained Monday by The Salt Lake Tribune.

Changes may still be made to the report, which was received Monday by the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst, a state analyst said.

The report is being sent to members of the Executive Appropriations Committee, which will meet Nov. 18 to consider.

Privatization most recently was advanced in February by Mont Evans, a former legislator and Corrections employee who became mayor of Riverton and a lobbyist for St. Louis-based Correctional Medical Services, which contracts with other states to manage prison medical services.

In May, fiscal analysts released a preliminary report saying the state's savings through privatization might not be as significant as initially thought, given streamlining measures already in place at Corrections' Bureau of Clinical Services.

"This is the third year we've defended BCS," Mike Chabries, executive director of Corrections, told Executive Appropriations committee members at the time. "It's time to put this idea to rest. Let's find out once and for all how good we are."

Corrections officials were pleased with the consultant's report, said spokesman Jack Ford. "We supported a review by an independent, outside group. I think it just validates what we've said all along -- that we provide excellent medical care for a reasonable cost."

The report said that current rates of compensation for staffers, along with drug costs, "are largely in line with those that would likely be proposed by private vendors."

The consultant recommended adding a liver biopsy to the treatment protocol for Hepatitis C and establishing an educational program for inmates on tattooing and the danger of sharing disposable razors.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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