As California prepares to resume control of inmate medical care, it must find ways to reduce costs that are triple the national average, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said Thursday, according to the Associated Press. The federal receivership that has been in place since 2006 has greatly improved the medical care of state prison inmates but also has caused costs to soar, according to the report. California spends $16,000 per inmate for health care services, compared to an average of $5,000 in other states.
The analysis was released less than two weeks before the state and attorneys representing inmates must report to a federal judge with recommendations on when the receivership should end and whether it should maintain some oversight role. The Legislature should create an independent board to monitor prison medical care to make sure conditions do not deteriorate once the state retakes control, the report said. It also recommends that the state experiment with contracting for medical services to cut costs.