Proposed reform to health care in Texas prisons - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Proposed reform to health care in Texas prisons

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Amarillo, TX - Healthcare in Texas prisons would cost less in taxpayer dollars if there were more competition for contracts, according to one state senator.

Our state prisons' healthcare system is among the most cost-efficient in the nation, and that cost has actually been dropping over the last seven years.  But Senator John Whitmire says a tiny dose of free-market capitalism could be just what the doctor ordered.

Since 1993, healthcare in Texas prisons has been managed by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in the west, and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston everywhere else.  Whitmire's Senate Bill 213 would open up contracts to six other schools, including Baylor and Texas A&M, and management would change on a rotating basis.  He says doing so would create a more competitive marketplace, which would in turn raise the quality of care while simultaneously lowering the cost.

Critics argue that the cost is already low and dropping in Texas prisons, and raise concerns that creating a profit-driven system could lead to rationing care and cutting costs to boost profits.

If you'd like to learn more about both arguments or see the most recent state reports, just follow the links attached to this story.