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The defunct hospital at Alcatraz prison. (Photo: Beth Jusino/Flickr)

House and Senate to Review Inmate Healthcare Costs

Joint legislative budget meeting set for this afternoon

By Steve Kirwan, November 9, 2023 2:15 pm

The joint Arizona House and Senate budget review committee will meet today to review inmate healthcare management costs. The state made news in 2022 when they awarded the $10M state prisoner healthcare contract to controversial NaphCare. The Alabama-based healthcare provider, who in 2021 began providing services to Pima County, was also charged with violating the False Claims Act by allegedly overcharging multiple facilities within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. NaphCare subsequently settled the case for $700K.

State Representative Matt Gress at an event hosted by Arizona Talks at Greenwood Brewing in Phoenix, October 26, 2023. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Arizona’s prison healthcare system has a checkered history stemming from allegations of substandard care and resulting in penalties charged to the Department of Corrections. The prior providers, including Centurion and Corizon, also faced multiple charges of falsifying records to reduce costs, resulting in additional fines.

Yesterday, the¬†Justice Department released a report from a surprise inspection conducted by an internal watchdog at the Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security complex for 750 women in Tallahassee, Fla. Even the hardened professionals, accustomed to Dickensian conditions in Americal’s federal prisons were said to be shocked by what they encountered: “moldy bread on lunch trays, rotting vegetables, breakfast cereal and other foods crawling with insects or rodents, cracked or missing bathroom and ceiling tiles, mold and rot almost everywhere, leaky roofs stoppered with plastic bags, windows blocked with feminine hygiene products.”

Today’s bipartisan and bicameral meeting, co-chaired by Representative David Livingston (R-28) and Senator John Kavanaugh (R-LD3) features a veritable who’s who of State leadership, including Senators Lela Alson (D-LD5), Ken Bennett (R-LD1), Sonny Borrelli (R-LD30), Eva Diaz (D-LD22), Brian Fernandez (D-LD23), Jake Hoffman (R-LD15), J.D. Mesnard (R-LD13) and Representatives Leo Biasiucci (R-30), Neal Carter (R-15), Joseph Chaplik (R-3), Matt Gress (R-4), Athena Salman (D-8), Judy Schweibert (D-2), and Stephanie Stahl Hamilton (D-21).

It’s unclear what this afternoon’s joint meeting will focus on, but the Arizona Globe has reached out to Sen. Kavanaugh and Rep Livingston for comment.

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