Businesses that provide for-profit medical care to inmates have grown enormously. The Washington Post notes in an editorial that the treatment they provide is generally shielded from outside scrutiny, and inmate patients are a largely powerless and voiceless constituency. Prison Health Services, the nation’s largest private supplier of inmate health services, provides care and treatment to about a third of Virginia’s 31,000 inmates. The company has been the target of lawsuits. In Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and several large cities, the firm has been accused by inmates’ families, courts, and local, state and federal officials of providing shoddy, neglectful, and at times harmful treatment.
Some Prison Health Services critics charge that its pursuit of profit has led it to scrimp on decent health care. The company has denied that. The breadth of its problems suggests that the company would benefit from ongoing and intensive monitoring to ensure that it provides adequate treatment, says the Post. In a number of states, Prison Health Services and other for-profit prison health providers are under the scrutiny of a court-appointed monitor or a state agency legislatively established for that purpose.