Top aides to Texas Gov. Rick Perry are quietly exploring a plan to hire private contractors to take over parts or all of the state’s troubled health care system for its convicted criminals, says the Austin American-Statesman. The details are being touted to legislative leaders and others as a possible way to save millions of dollars amid spiraling costs for prisoner health care that some officials fear could soon rise above $1 billion over two years.
Ongoing discussions about the proposal are raising concerns of some state officials because private companies interested in providing prisoner health care services have been involved in closed-door talks before privatization has been discussed publicly. Those officials warn of an appearance of conflict should one of the vendors be awarded a contract. House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden said that, “Our correctional managed health care system with university providers has been a national model for several years for its treatment costs, compared to much higher costs in other states. And I think it would be hard to go back and change that unless we knew for sure there would be savings, after an open, transparent process to select private vendors.”