Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Perils Of Privatizing Milwaukee County Jail's Health Care System

Even though Boss Abele and Sheriff David Clarke love to spit in each other's face, there is one thing that they do agree on whole-heartedly - they both love to privatize everything they can.

Abele and Clarke have pushed for years to privatize the health care system in the Milwaukee County Jail and the House of Corrections.  They wanted this so much that they went to the court to get their way - even though the privatization cost a million dollars more than if health care services were provided by county workers.

So what could go wrong?

Well, just look at Florida, where Governor Rick Scott privatized the state's prison health care service:
In January 2014, three months after the privatization was fully implemented, the number of inmates who died "shot to a 10-year high," says the Post. In the past 10 years, there were only 10 months in which 30 or more inmates died. So far this year, the death count has "topped 30 a total of four times in just seven months." This is a dramatic increase from 12.5 percent to 57 percent. The investigation also found that the number of referrals for outside hospital care is down by 47 percent compared to 2012.

How did this happen? In his 2010 gubernatorial campaign, candidate Scott promised to cut prison funding by $1 billion. "Privatization isn't necessary for us to achieve that goal, but nothing is off the table," Scott's spokesperson Brian Burgess said. True enough, the Florida Corrections Department soon sent out a request for proposal for prison health care services. Underbidding the competitors, Corizon argued that it could provide the current quality of care, but for seven percent less.

As the privatization process moved forward, 1,890 state employees received a dismissal letter reading, in part, "Due to the outsourcing of this function, your position will be deleted." As far as Corizon was concerned, there were some snags along the way. But $415,000 spent on lobbying the state legislature between 2011 and 2013 might have gone some way toward ironing them out.
One would be correct in pointing out that Scott was being reckless by giving the five-year, $1.2 billion contract to a company that had been sued 660 times for malpractice in the past five years.

Surely, the fiscally conservative Abele and Clarke wouldn't do something like that!

Oh, wait.

The company that are getting the extra million dollars of taxpayer money doesn't have such a good record themselves.

While we have to wait another year and a half to get rid of Boss Abele, the good news is we can get rid of David Clarke in just a couple of weeks, by voting for Angela Walker.

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