A federal judge has ordered the California prison system to pay tens of millions of dollars owed to doctors who treat inmates, reports the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, the state launched an audit of the agency. Some doctors have not been paid in four years. Some of their contracts have lapsed; some who deliver cardiology, radiology, oncology, and other services to prisoners are no longer responding when called.
U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson, who has put the prison health care system in the hands of a federal receiver, ordered that more than $58 million in outstanding doctor bills be paid within two months. The judge had harsh words for corrections leaders, saying they have stuck “their collective heads in the sand” instead of resolving the medical contracting mess. Lax medical care in California lockups is blamed for an average of 64 preventable deaths a year.