Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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O Say Can UC Prison Healthcare?

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The University of California’s Board of Regents is meeting in San Francisco this week. Today’s topic: whether the UC system will take control of health care in California state prisons.

If agreed, the UC would take over right way at 11 Northern California prisons before being expanded to all 33 facilities up and down the state. And it wouldn’t be just health care: the UC would also handle prison dental and psychiatric care. 

It’s not an unprecedented move. Texas did the same starting back in the 1990s (that being the inspiration for the Schwarzenegger Administration now trying to do the same).  Georgia and New Jersey are doing it now.

And California state official could talk up potential savings — up to $12 billion over the course of a decade, the Schwarzenegger Administration contends. Not to mention some appealing short-term benefits, such as shrinking the 11% part of the state general fund  now occupied by prisons costs.

So why would the Regents take on this headache at a time when California’s higher-ed system already is financially strapped and emotionally strained?

Well, there’s the sentimental argument: the idea being that the University of California is all about teaching, research and public service. And that latter concept — public service — would certainly apply in this instance.

A more cynical view would be that the UC, by doing the state a big favor by taking over prison health care,  will ask for something big in return. Such as: a healthy cut of that projected $12 billion in savings to the state.

Stay tuned to see if UC buys into the concept.  Or, if it chooses not to play ball with the Schwarzenegger Administration, whether that factors into this year’s round of budget-balancing — and how bad of a hit the UC takes.


Written by Bill Whalen

March 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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