Texas taxpayers are spending more on treating convicted criminals at a Galveston hospital than they are on law-abiding citizens in other parts of the state, says an audit of spiraling prison health care costs reported by the Austin American-Statesman. The State Auditor also alleges that the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston charged the state’s prison health care program for more than $16.2 million in costs not directly related to prisoner care, spent more than $6.6 million in two years for items that were not allowed under the prison contract. and handed out $14.1 million in pay increases over three years while reporting that the program had a $95.1 million deficit.
In one case, the audit discloses, 40 employees of the prison medical division of UTMB received bonuses last November for which they were not supposed to be eligible at a time when state agencies had been ordered to cut spending by 15 percent to staunch a predicted $27 billion budget shortfall. The audit says the university’s prison health care division charges more for reimbursement for physician services, inpatient hospital services, and outpatient services than it does for Medicare, Medicaid, and at least one major private insurer’s reimbursements.