Efforts by private companies to get a piece of Texas’ nearly $1 billion prisoner health care system are continuing as companies make sales pitches to lawmakers and seek changes in state law to authorize privatization, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Some legislative leaders are chafing about the push, saying the idea has not been studied or vetted publicly — and is being advanced by outside interests even though neither the House nor the Senate has embraced it.
“There is a push on to change the system we have, a system that is cost-effective and is a national model, even before we know whether there will be any real savings,” said House Corrections Committee Chairman Jerry Madden. Under current law, the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center provide health care to Texas’ 154,000 imprisoned felons. Skeptics say Texas could be embarking on the next privatization boondoggle. “Privatization usually means significantly higher costs and poorer care,” said Tom Smith, Texas director of Public Citizen, a government watchdog group.