Diary

Government in action. And on health care too...

Even cynical old me found this one hard to believe.  It concerns health care for prison inmates in California.

Let me note here that I’ve been involved as a volunteer with several Christian prison ministry organizations, most notably Prison Fellowship, over a 25 year period and have been in jails and prisons in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, New Mexico and Arizona.  I’ve been in facilities that range from small city/county jails that were simply minimum security overnight lockups to very high security state and federal prisons.  Bottom line, I am familiar with “the system” and how departments of corrections generally function.

A quick line of background, inmates sued the State of California over the quality and access to health care.  The court appointed a Receiver to fix the problem.  Debra Saunders at RCP has this report. Highlights are mine.

Of course California’s prison inmates are entitled to reasonable 21st-century health care. Unfortunately for taxpayers, Clark Kelso, the federal receiver in charge of California’s prison health care has, as state Attorney General Jerry Brown noted at a news conference last week, a “gold-plated wish list” for California’s prison health care system.

His Receivership wants to spend $8 billion to build seven new hospitals, each the size of 10 Wal-Marts, which would create “a holistic environment,” with “music therapy, art therapy and other recreation therapy functions,” a music room, stress-reduction room, game room and “therapy kitchen,” with lots of natural light and high ceilings. A gymnasium would feature a “full-size high school playing court with basketball hoops and built-in edge seating up to four rows deep. Various floor striping allows for other games, such as volleyball, etc. Other sport activities include handball courts, exercise, and (a) workout room.”

“The overarching value” of Plan Kelso is to create “a health care facility that cares for prisoners as patients and not a prison that cares for health care needs as inmates.” No surprise: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation estimates the annual cost of operating these facilities to be between $170,000 and $230,000 per inmate.

The amazing part: California politicians were going along with the plan until Wednesday, when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Thelton E. Henderson to replace Kelso with a special master.
[…]
In the meantime, health care spending per inmate rose from $7,601 per inmate in 2005-06 to $13,778 per inmate in 2007-08 — an 81 percent increase and far above the average of $4,600 spent on health care per Californian.
[…]
And His Receivership doesn’t quite understand the population he serves. The yoga/music therapy/handball/landscaping — that’s right, I forgot to mention the landscaping to give facilities that retreat feeling — approach fails to recognize that 47 percent of California’s inmates are repeat violent offenders.

I won’t get into my opinion of the criminal justice system (if you’re familiar with my writing you’d be surprised), but I will note that this is a shining example of three things.

First, this is another example of courts and their minions (the Receivers) run wild with absolutely no accountability. There are dozens of examples that could be cited like the who ordered tax increases so a city could spend billions on their schools. Or any number of state/county corrections departments that have similar court oversight. Oh, and be sure and read the whole article. I left out some stuff that will really make your blood boil with reference to the “Receivers”.

Second, with regard to “health care” juxtapose this with the soon coming national health care proposals that will blaze through Congress. I don’t know what they will look like, except I’m sure it will be the Lawyer’s Full Employment Act and we can expect to see class action lawsuits wending their way through the courts forever because of denials or waiting periods for critical care surgery like face lifts or boob jobs. (Speaking of boobs, how about that Joe Biden?) I can just see a Receiver working his wonders on a national hospital plan. Heck, I’ll bet they could get the cost way over the $170,000 per person for inmates.

And third, please note the following: California politicians were going along with the plan… and remember, these are the bozos (with apologies to The Clown) who have driven the Golden State into a $41B operating deficit and who are sending out IOUs instead of tax refunds, welfare checks, student grants and other payments owed to Californians starting Feb. 1. According to another article in Bloomberg, the state is also giving IOUs to vendors: …landscapers, carpet cleaners, construction firms, food-service companies and other state vendors. Check out the two linked articles, there’s more there there.

We’ve lived through our courts being totally out of control and unaccountable for the last couple of decades. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. We now have our courts out of control and unaccountable, and you can see our government in the same condition almost immediately. The dam (damn?) broke when Bush collaborated with the enemy on the first bail out.

Now would be a good time to take a hard look at the situation in Iceland and Zimbabwe.