Michigan eyes full privatization of prison health care

Jul 20, 2012

Michigan may privatize all of its prison medical services in an effort to cut costs.

The state spent more than $300 million  last year to provide health and mental health care to its 43,000 prisoners.

Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says that care costs about $200 per month, per prisoner.

He says a contractor may be able to provide the service for less.

"State employees have 65 to 70 percent of their hourly pay --  is in their benefits, and those benefits would be health insurance, paid leave time, and these types of things, retirement benefits," Marlan says. "And a private provider may not structure every employee the same.

Marlan says many doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat inmates already work for contractors; but many nurses and other support staff are still state employees.

Bids have to be received by the end of next month.