Medical Standards for TDCJ

TDCJ Health Care Now Up To Standard – Critics Disagree

Annual prison medical costs: $315 million. Damn, no wonder we can’t get a raise Jim “tight-eyes” Riley . . . Oh yeah, I remember him. He was part of the Fort Huntsville Crew McCotter brought in . . . nuff said.

Yeah, retirement tends to free one up to “tell it like it is” and it feels good doesn’t it? Congratulations on your retirement. . .anyone who does enough time in today’s system to reach retirement has my respect. . . enjoy every day. . .you’ve earned it.

What is not being taken into consideration is the transportation and housing costs for inmates to be seen at Hospital Galveston and other areas. What does TDCJ pay out for these costs? I have NEVER been able to obtain any figures for this major budget drain! And what about the free world hospitals that have contracts with UTMB and/or TDCJ Managed Care? How much does it cost TDCJ to have inmates housed in these non-secure facilities? What is the bottom line; the cost factor, of having officers and unit vehicles transporting inmates all over Texas for “managed medical care”? A CEO would not survive the first Board meeting if he presented the figures and outlined the operation of TDCJ’s Medical care package. Oops! I just remembered who the players are/were when this operation was “birthed”. Former State Representative Hightower (Then on the Corrections Committee), Jim Riley (Remember him “Jimmy Olsen”?), and Jim Lynaugh. Hightower presently resides over the Managed Care. Riley recently retired from this Department and Lynaugh did have a position there (still does?). I no longer ride for the brand so I believe I can now “tell it like it is”. Stay safe out there. The above statements made by employees of the prison system or former employees.

Inmate health care now up to standard July 28, 2004


Houston Chronicle

Nearly every Texas inmate who gets sick now receives health care that meets national standards, prison health officials will report today.

That’s a far cry from a decade ago, when just 40 percent of inmates received proper care and the state grappled with a federal court order to improve the deplorable conditions faced by prisoners.

Today’s 97 percent rate of care comes primarily from privatization of the system, the report said. The state gave the job of caring for prisoners to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Texas Tech University in 1993.


Health care in Texas prisons has improved, but costs remain low compared with California’s similarly sized system:

Texas inmate population : 147,000

� Annual prison medical costs: $315 million

� California inmate population: 160,000

� Annual prison medical costs: $1 billion

Source: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

Increased medical staffing, falling death rates for AIDS and other diseases, and technology have also contributed to improved care, said the report, published in today’s issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“We think this is a success story,” said Dr. Ben Raimer, the report’s lead author and vice president of community outreach for UTMB.

The report was co-written by UTMB President Dr. John Stobo.

An accompanying editorial in the journal, written by Dr. Newton Kendig, medical director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, hails the Texas system’s collaboration with academic medicine as a model for other states.

But prisoner-rights activists called the results a sham, saying the data have not been verified by physicians outside the prison health care network. The report is based on medical records kept by prison system health care workers.

“It’s a complete and total fraud,” said activist Ray Hill, host of The Prison Show on KPFT-FM (90.1) radio.

Hill said that of the 200 letters he receives each week from Texas inmates, one-third concern problems with health care.

Turning to academia

A successful federal lawsuit filed by inmate David Ruiz in 1974 eventually forced the state to improve conditions, including health care, for inmates.

To meet part of the ruling by U.S. District Judge William Justice, the Texas Legislature turned over the state’s $300 million-a-year prison health care business to the universities. UTMB serves about 78 percent of the state’s 147,000 prisoners, with Tech seeing the remainder.

The report suggests that the plan has succeeded. As medical costs have skyrocketed in the private sector, the academic institutions held prisoner costs down. In 1993, the average daily medical cost per prisoner, according to state figures, was $5.99. Last year it was $6.23, just 24 cents more.

According to some measures, U.S. general health care costs doubled during the same time period.

Quality care for low cost

Even as costs remained essentially flat, the quality of care has risen, the report said.

A decade ago, just 34 percent of patients with asthma received a level of care recommended by national medical associations � the same standards that apply in any local doctor’s office. Now, based upon medical records of inmates, 97 percent of asthma patients receive proper diagnosis, medication and follow-up care.

The researchers found similar improvements in complying with national standards of care with other diseases such as type 1 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.