Health care spending in the United States has been increasing steadily over the past decade, and state corrections departments have seen a particularly sharp rise in health care-related costs. A recent report issued by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation found a 32-percent median increase in per-inmate health care spending between 2001 and 2008 in the 44 states surveyed. With these increases, anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of state corrections budgets are being spent on health services for inmates. As the prison population ages—a trend also well documented by the Pew report—these costs appear likely to continue to rise.
On December 10, 2013, the National Governors Association (NGA) hosted a webcast to discuss strategies that states can adopt to improve health care delivery for their prison populations while mitigating rising costs. The conversation focused on four innovative approaches: telemedicine, outsourcing agreements, Medicaid financing, and medical parole. Themes included the need to think creatively about how to effectively harness both technological advances and collaborative opportunities to achieve better outcomes for inmate health, public safety, and state budgets. Panelists included:
- Maria Schiff, Director, State Health Care Spending Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts
- Jim Dzurenda, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Correction
- Aaron Edwards, Senior Fiscal and Policy Analyst, California Legislative Analyst’s Office
- Jeff Dickert, Vice President, University Correctional Health Care, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
To watch an archived version of the webcast on the NGA website, click here.