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Opportunities for Cost Savings in Corrections without Sacrificing Service Quality – Inmate Health Care, Urban Institute, 2012

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©2012. The Urban Institute. All rights reserved.
The views expressed are solely those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban
Institute, its trustees, or its funders.



REENA CHAKRABORTY, Washington DC Dept. of Corrections

2100 M Street, NW ● Washington, DC 20037

FORWARD ............................................................................................................................. 1
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................................... 2

SECTION 1: SUMMARY .................................................................................................... 3
THE ISSUE .............................................................................................................................. 3
Why is so much spent? ........................................................................................................................... 3

MOST PROMISING COST REDUCTION APPROACHES ............................................................... 4
Approaches that Reduce Inmate Need for Health Care ......................................................................... 5
Approaches that Reduce Cost of Health Care per Inmate Treated ........................................................ 7

STUDY LIMITATION................................................................................................................ 8

SECTION 2: DETAILED ANALYSIS ......................................................................... 9
REDUCE DEMAND/NEED FOR MEDICAL CARE....................................................................... 11
Improve Health of Inmate Population.................................................................................................. 11
Reduce Unnecessary Consumption of Medical Services ...................................................................... 12
Divert/Release Sick Individuals............................................................................................................. 15

REDUCE THE COST FOR TREATING AN INMATE ..................................................................... 17
Reduce Cost of Pharmaceuticals .......................................................................................................... 17
Reduce Cost of Using Outside Medical Care ........................................................................................ 20
Use In-House Medical Services When Less Expensive ......................................................................... 22
Tighten Contracting and Auditing ........................................................................................................ 25

SYNERGISTIC APPROACHES TO HEALTH CARE COST REDUCTION........................................... 27
METHODOLOGY AND CAVEATS............................................................................................ 28
REFERENCES CITED .............................................................................................................. 31
APPENDIX............................................................................................................................ 34

Opportunities for Cost Savings in Corrections Without Sacrificing Service
Inmate Medical Care

For many state and local governments, the recent economic crisis in the United States has meant
declining revenues at a time when demand for services is at its highest. Although budget constraints
have forced many jurisdictions to institute painful cuts, some agencies have been able to develop
strategies that trim spending while also maintaining – and often improving – the services on which so
many constituents depend.
The state and local governments have individually developed ways to reduce costs of one or more
aspects of their services without sacrificing the quality of the service often do not have time to
document or disseminate their cost saving approaches. And many governments do not have adequate
staff time to find these potentially transferable ideas, nor to evaluate them.
The Urban Institute is seeking to identify promising approaches that have been tested in at least one
jurisdiction and that have reduced costs without sacrificing service quality--and then to share the results
nationally. This report addresses inmate health care costs incurred by local and state correctional
This current series of reports also contains two other opportunities for saving cost without sacrificing
service quality: reducing police responses to false alarms and reducing police vehicle fuel consumption.
The reports on these other two areas also are available from the Urban Institute.


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The authors wish to thanks the following individuals for being particularly helpful in guiding, reviewing
or otherwise contributing to this study.
Harry Hatry, Director, Public Management Program, Urban Institute
John Roman, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute
Kamala Malik-Kane, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute
Tom Hoey, Deputy Director, Department of Corrections, Washington DC
Tom Riemers, Administration and Program Director, Inmate Health Services, Florida State
Department of Corrections


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This report is organized into two sections. The first is essentially an executive summary for senior
correctional managers, central administration officials, and elected officials. The second section is
intended for the practitioners of each service or those interested in understanding the approaches in
greater depth.

This report focuses on ways to reduce inmate health care costs without sacrificing the quality of inmate
health care. It considers health practices in local jails and state and federal prisons. 1

Typically 9 to 30 percent of corrections costs go to inmate health care. This amounts to hundreds of
millions of dollars nationally, and is an aspect of corrections about which the public and many decision
makers are largely unaware. Inmate health care costs are high in both prisons and jails.
In Washington DC, for example, inmate medical services in its jail cost about $33 million in 2012, a
quarter of its Corrections budget. 2 This does not include the cost of sending corrections officers to guard
prisoners who receive medical treatment outside the jail. On average, DC tax payers spend about $30 a
day per inmate for medical, dental, psychiatric and vision care.
Can these costs be substantially reduced? This report identifies a number of opportunities for
Corrections agencies to save inmate health care costs and, very importantly, without sacrificing service

Why Is So Much Spent?
Prisons and Jails are required to provide health care to inmates at a level comparable to the care they
could receive in the community if not incarcerated. It is considered an eighth amendment issue
regarding cruel and unusual punishment, affirmed by the Supreme Court (Estelle v. Gamble 1976).
Corrections institutions that do not provide adequate levels of care can be and have been sued, often
for millions of dollars.
Another reason for the attention given to inmate health care is that public health and correctional
stakeholders increasingly view jails as a public health opportunity to affect:

the course of various epidemics


The term “inmate” sometimes is used to refer to jails, and prisoner to prisons. We will use the terms “inmate”
and “prisoner” interchangeably in this report, which is common lay usage.
Schroth 2009


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factors that contribute to criminal behavior and the cycle of repeated incarceration, such as
untreated mental illness
the progression of disease so that chronic conditions can be managed in a more cost effective
manner when the inmate is released in the community or locked up again.

Inmates typically receive a more or less comprehensive physical examination upon entry to a jail or
prison. Thereafter they are treated as needed. Some corrections institutions provide annual physicals for
inmates incarcerated for more than a year. Medical care usually includes physical, mental, dental, and
eye examinations. Sometimes prisoners are sent home from prisons or jails with medical supplies such
as AIDS medications to continue treatment after release.

Many jails and prisons, probably most, are highly conscious of the high cost of medical care. Many have
already implemented a number of approaches to reduce costs while maintaining or improving inmate
health outcomes, such as use of in-house dialysis, telemedicine for radiology, and group pharmaceutical
purchasing contracts. 3
This report lays out ways that departments of corrections can consider to reduce inmate medical costs
without affecting high standards for inmate medical services. Strategies for cost savings are presented
that might be used by a department of corrections directly, or included in contracts for outsourcing
inmate health care. One or more prisons or jails across the nation use each strategy identified. We
identified them from internet searches and discussions with experts in the field, with one or two
exceptions of approaches we suggested ourselves.
Many of the approaches profiled in this report have been developed by federal and state prisons, which
handle a different population of inmates from those of a typical municipal DC jail. Prisons typically have
longer length of stays and minimal contact with the community. In contrast, jails often experience high
turnover of inmates. Many jail inmates have short stays and are booked and released several times
within a year. We nevertheless present ideas from both jails and prison systems because most of their
cost-saving approaches seem relevant to each.
In reviewing cost reduction approaches, we used the following criteria to identify the potentially most
relevant and actionable strategies:
• Cost savings potential (net after start-up costs)
• Impact on service quality
• Transferability (to many prison and jail systems)
• Impact on staff (such as health and safety of corrections officers)
• Impact on the community: (such as health and safety of citizens, effects on inmates’ families).
Data were not always available to assess all of these impacts quantitatively but they were considered at
least qualitatively.


Washington DC DOC is one example of a jail system that has implemented these and other approaches.


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Cost reduction approaches for inmate health care are grouped here into two major categories. The first
group are approaches that reduce the amount of medical care needed, such as by preventive measures
and reducing unnecessary medical visits. These approaches reduce frequency of visits to medical care
or the severity of ailments that need treatment.
The second group of approaches includes those that reduce the cost of health care per inmate treated,
such as providing more care in house to reduce transportation and guard costs for external visits to
Exhibit 1 lists the approaches that appear most promising within each major category. Section 2 of this
report describes these and other approaches in more detail, along with examples of their use and cost
Exhibit 1- Approaches to Consider to Reduce Inmate Health Care Costs
Approaches that reduce inmate need for health care

Screen inmates on intake, and treat diseases and conditions found (to prevent spread and to
reduce severity, and hence levels of treatment needed later on.)
Expand utilization management (screening requests for hospitalization and other services).
Require co-payments for medical visits.
Allow direct purchase of over-the-counter drugs by inmates.
Provide court reminders for those arraigned but not yet jailed (to reduce unnecessary jail time).

Approaches that reduce cost of health care per inmate treated
• Expand use of telemedicine.
• Reduce nurse time dispensing medications.
• Continue to identify less expensive yet effective medications, for physical and mental ailments.
• Eliminate 24-hour services where not needed.
• Base new health care contracts at least in part on inmate population size.
Each of the above approaches is described briefly below. Most of these approaches are used in multiple
prisons or jails. All are likely to be usable elsewhere. For some cost-reduction approaches, one can be
confident that they have little or no impact on inmate health either because they lower the cost of the
service without altering the service itself (e.g., purchasing pills at a lower unit cost price) or because the
approach has been vetted in the general population (e.g. use of generic drugs versus brand name drugs).
For other approaches, more formal evaluation of their health impacts would be desirable.

Approaches that Reduce Inmate Need for Health Care

Medically screen inmates upon intake. A comprehensive medical and psychological exam when
prisoners first arrive is the critical first step to head off epidemics and to reduce severity of
untreated illnesses and conditions. Many prisoners have psychological problems and addictions
that are as important to identify and treat as physical illnesses. Inmates often immediately
benefit from treatments, especially on their previously unknown or untreated conditions.
It is difficult to quantify how much health care cost savings is ultimately realized without
undertaking comparisons before and after implementing such screening, which we could not
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find if it has been done. The health of inmates after they are released is usually better than
when they enter a jail, such as experienced in Washington DC. The treatment of AIDs of inmates
is considered a key element in reduction of AIDS in the community. Reduction of diseases in the
prisons also reduces exposures of prison staff.

Employ utilization management. Utilization management (UM) is a strategy for screening
requests for inmate hospitalization and medical visits made by care providers or requested by
the inmates. It is used by many jails and prisons to some extent but its use can be expanded. It
has been found to reduce unnecessary medical treatment and to save money; Florida and
California prisons each reduced their costs for specialty and hospitalization services by at least
20 percent with UM.
The potential negative side of UM is the possibility that screenings might deny advanced care to
some inmates who need it. Screening also adds to medical staff paperwork and time. To reduce
negative effects, UM usually allows doctors to override the screening standards. The possibility
of overrides in turn requires that UM systems be accompanied by quality controls that monitor
the frequency and nature of overrides, to determine is the standards are unrealistic or the
overrides inappropriate.


Require co-payments for medical visits. Co-payments are modest fees (typically $5-$15)
assessed on non-indigent inmates for medical visits they initiate. The fees are intended to
reduce frivolous requests to see a medical practitioner. They can be assessed at least on the
segment of the prison or jail population that spends money on canteen purchases. Co-pays are
widely used in prisons but we did not find any evaluations of their impact on the number of
inmate medical visits nor health impacts.
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) opposes co-pays because they
may deter some inmates from requesting care when needed. Co-pays also require extra
paperwork or computer entries. Copayments are relatively easy to implement where inmates
have some version of an in-house bank account. Where not already used, co-pays might be tried
on a trial basis for a year, and evaluated.


Allow direct purchase of over-the-counter drugs by inmates. This approach saves money by
reducing medical visits if inmates can treat themselves and by some inmates paying for the
medications rather than getting them more expensively as part of a visit to the health care
system. The Federal Bureau of Prisons saved $1.2 Million in one year by allowing inmates to
purchase 36 types of OTC drugs. The negatives are that many inmates are indigent and cannot
afford OTC medications; and some inmates may lack the ability to appropriately select OTC
medications that don’t have negative effects from mixing with other medications they take or
for other reasons. But the same concerns apply to OTCs used by the general population. Many
prisons and jails now routinely allow OTC purchases and they have not reported any major
problems as far as we could find.


Provide court reminders for those arraigned but not yet jailed. Individuals with chronic mental
and physical health issues can be called to remind them not to miss court appearances. Missed
appearances slow case processing and lead to more frequent and longer detentions. This
practice could reduce corrections health (and other) costs by reducing days in the jail. Coconino
County, AZ, for example, reduced court no-shows from 25% of cases to 6% of cases by this
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approach. It is to the advantage of the community and the persons arraigned not to stretch out
the judicial process and sometimes unnecessary incarceration.

Approaches that Reduce Cost of Health Care per Inmate Treated

Expand use of telemedicine. Telemedicine is the use of two-way video and audio between
patients and doctors who are located remotely from the patients. When appropriate specialists
are not available in house, telemedicine can reduce costs by eliminating the need and expense
to transport inmates to external health care under corrections officer or other supervision.
Telemedicine also can reduce costs where demand for a medical specialty does not justify
specialized doctors to be available on regular schedules inside the jail. It is especially useful for
some specialties, such as radiology, dermatology and psychiatry. It is less useful for others such
as orthopedics and cardiology
Texas and Ohio prison systems saved $200-$1000 per inmate treated via telemedicine
compared to what the same visits would otherwise have cost. The start-up costs (mainly the
purchase of the video system) typically range from $50,000 to $75,000.The anticipated volume
of telemedicine consultations needs to be high enough to justify the start-up cost.
Besides saving costs, telemedicine expands the pool of medical specialists that can be used, as
some doctors may be reluctant to practice in a correctional setting. Use of telemedicine
therefore may improve health care. Because telemedicine reduces inmate transports it has the
side benefit of reducing risks for the community and the corrections officers themselves.


Reduce nurse time dispensing medications. A number of new technologies and procedures are
being used for more efficient delivery of medications to inmates. For example, San Bernardino,
California developed a dispensing system carried on the nurse’s cart that stores and packages
the medications needed for each inmate. The system reduced nurse time and time of the
corrections officers who accompany them. It also reduced errors associated with dispensing
medications, which improves care, reduces the need for subsequent care, and decreases
liability. No quantitative data was available, just strong perceptions that there were significant
savings in time and money.


Continue to identify less expensive yet effective medications for physical and mental ailments.
Many institutions already use generic and other less expensive drugs where the medical
equivalency to more expensive options is close if not identical. Further use of these alternate
medications may be possible. The Florida DOC changed medications used for schizophrenia and
bipolar disorders, and saved over $1.3 million in a three month period. The potential seems high
for reducing health care costs by continued review of the list of preferred medications, as is
done each year in Medicare and other health insurance programs for the general population.


Eliminate 24-hour services where not needed. Costs might be saved by reducing the number of
in-house medical staff on night shifts. The key tradeoffs are among the cost of the night shift
staff, the cost of transporting inmates in need of emergency services after daytime medical
shifts have ended, and the ability to use local fire or emergency medical services. Emergency
services take more time to reach inmates than for the general population because of jail or
prison security.


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As an alternative to maintaining all-night medical services, corrections departments might
consider cross-training some correctional officers as emergency medical technicians (EMTs),
which has long been done with firefighters. Getting trained emergency care to inmates
Increases the likelihood of a positive outcome to an emergency health problem. 4
Cross-training corrections officers as EMTs may have the positive side effect of changing the
view of inmates toward the corrections officers, which may reduce tensions. It also opens up a
new career path for corrections officers, and reduces risks for those who otherwise have to
enter jails or prisons to deliver emergency care.

Base new contracts for inmate health care at least in part on inmate population size. Some
corrections agencies use fixed price contracts for providing inmate health care, but they are
fraught with financial risk to the corrections department if the number of inmates decreases, or
to the contractor if the number of inmates increases. If contracting out, a major part of the
contracted amount should be based on the annual size of the inmate population. Contracts also
should consider incentives for improved efficiency that do not adversely affect inmate health,
and should require the contractor to provide detailed data needed to evaluate inmate health
and the efficiency of the services delivered. The contract might stipulate the inclusion of some
desired cost-saving approaches, such as use of telemedicine. Some state prisons already have
included a requirement for such cost saving approaches in their contracts.
It is important to note that when considering contracting out for health services that the liability
for failure to provide adequate health care to inmates still rests with the government, regardless
of whether services are provided through contracted or in-house staff. 5 So the level and quality
of care must be reflected in the contract.

We found a lack of adequate data on health impacts for some of the cost-saving approaches presented
her. Many prison and jail systems seem to have only limited information on the outcomes of their
inmate health programs.
While the descriptions of cost saving approaches profiled in this report often imply that the strategies
did not affect inmate health adversely, we acknowledge the challenges to measuring impacts on inmate
health. At the end of Section 2 we discuss some strategies that might be employed to estimate the
effects of cost-saving approaches on inmate health. The National Commission on Correctional Health
Care NCCHC and the State of California, among others, are trying to develop metrics that can be used to
evaluate inmate health better.


A senior Washington DC corrections official told us that there might be some precedent for cross-training
correction officers as EMTs, but we were not able to identify a specific example.
Faivier, K. Health Care Management Issues in Corrections, Lanham, MD, United Book Press, 1997, cited in


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Various strategies have been used by jurisdictions across the nation to significantly reduce inmate
health care costs while maintaining the quality of overall inmate care. Exhibit 2 provides an expanded
list of these approaches (beyond those in Exhibit 1 above.) For each strategy, we later provide examples
of corrections systems that have documented cost savings and other benefits, and also any negative
impacts found with the approaches.
The report concludes with examples of how some jurisdictions have employed multiple, simultaneous
cost reduction approaches to synergistically lower the cost of health care in their facilities, followed by a
brief discussion of metrics for inmate health.


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Exhibit 2: Expanded Approaches for Reducing Inmate Health Care Costs
Improve Health of Inmate Population
• Prevent chronic and communicable diseases
• Manage communicable diseases
Reduce Unnecessary Consumption of Medical Services
• Use guidelines for non-emergent hospitalization and certain other care
• Require co-payments for medical visits
Divert/Release Sick Individuals
• Divert low-risk sick from incarceration
• Compassionate release of seriously ill
• Remind arraigned persons of their court appearance dates (especially
individuals with chronic mental and physical health issues, so that they do not
miss court appearances and are sent to jail sick.)
• Use nurses to screen arrestees for health problems before being brought to jail
Reduce Cost of Pharmaceuticals
• Use cheaper equivalently effective drugs (e.g. generics, lower cost choices)
• Negotiate/join consortiums to lower unit cost of drugs
• Allow direct purchase of OTC drugs by inmates
Reduce Cost of Using Outside Medical Care
• Use telemedicine
• Renegotiate fees for hospital and clinical services
• Share medical services with other organizations
• Use medical students under supervision
• Create secure areas of hospitals (for inmate stays)
Use In-House Medical Services When Less Expensive
• In-house services vs. contracting out for infrequently used services
• Reduce nurse time dispensing medications
• Use less expensive staff (e.g. physician’s assistants) for some procedures
• Eliminate 24-hour services where not needed
• Use longer nurse shifts
Tighten Contracting and Auditing
• Use per-capita contracting if contracting out services
• Check bills for errors


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Practices that improve overall inmate health and that prevent disease, injuries, and other health
problems can reduce the need for medical services. Controlling health problems also can reduce
consumption of medical services and hence costs. In addition, some practices reduce demand by
screening requests for services before delivering them, or by putting up small barriers like co-pays to
make sure they are sincere requests.

Improve Health of Inmate Population
Management of chronic diseases helps reduce their worsening and the need for much more expensive
treatments (e.g., treating hypertension with relatively inexpensive medication can prevent strokes and
heart disease). While possibly of less importance for a jail than a prison with longer term prisoners, it
still seems good practice to do prevention and use early treatment strategies.
Management of communicable diseases reduces their spread and worsening, and hence the volume of
treatment needed.
Prevent chronic and communicable diseases. Many jails and prisons offer a variety of services to
prevent or reduce complications of chronic illness and promote health maintenance. As noted earlier,
new inmates often receive medical screening upon intake, and are given treatment for any medical
problems found. On-site (in jail) clinics may provide specialty services including ophthalmology;
podiatry; neurology; orthopedics; infectious disease; cardiology; and gynecology. Services not provided
within a jail or prison or beyond the scope of on-site providers are referred to off-site providers.
Manage communicable diseases. Efforts to control communicable diseases from spreading in jail also
can help reduce demand for inmate health services. National estimates indicate that prison and jail
inmates have higher rates of communicable diseases than the general public. 6 Their rates are high upon
entry, and may worsen while in custody if they engage in risky behavior such as “unsterilized tattooing
and piercing, unprotected sex, fighting (which may result in blood-to-blood contact), sharing personal
hygiene items such as razors, and IV or intranasal drug use.” 7 Treatment of communicable diseases can
be expensive, with one 10 year old study estimating the annual cost of care for serious communicable
diseases at $18,000- $30,000 per prisoner treated. 8 Thus reducing diseases can reduce costs. And
improved management of mental illnesses may contribute to a safer correctional environment, which
also can reduce costs.

Washington, DC Jail—Because of the high rates of HIV/AIDS within the DC jail and the broader
community, the DC DOC has focused on combating this epidemic and has consistently received
the highest grades in the city from the Appleseed Center, a DC organization that evaluates HIV
reduction efforts. The trend in AiDS in DC has been downward since 2006, in part because of
diversion efforts and community prevention and care programs. 9 The DC DOC uses Ora-Quick
Rapid Kits to provide HIV testing to eligible inmates at intake, sick call and release. Inmates with
positive test results receive a referral for serological confirmatory testing and further
counseling. Inmates with negative results receive counseling on prevention. An inmate can


Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2000.
Kinsella, 2004.
Kinsella, 2004.
Information provided by DOC Office of Strategic Planning and Analysis, September 2012.


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refuse to be tested without threat of disciplinary action, but then is referred to a medical
professional for further counseling. Approximately ten percent of inmates refuse to take an HIV
test.10 Inmates may seek HIV testing voluntarily at any point during their incarceration.
The current contractual health care provider in DC DOC is responsible for ensuring that inmates
who test positive for HIV/AIDS on intake receive the counseling and confirmatory serology
testing prior to being housed. Test results are shared with the inmate by a medical professional,
and a plan of treatment is designed which includes counseling, support and appointments with
the chronic care clinic for on-going care, medication as needed, mental health support, and
discharge planning.
In order to prevent the spread of HIV while an infected inmate is in custody, DOC implemented a
condom distribution program for inmates since the early 1990’s. 11 The DC Department of Health
provides DOC with free condoms for distribution in the jail. They are accessible during health
education classes or upon request to health care staff during intake, clinic visits, or sick call.
Medical workers offer condoms to all inmates. To preserve anonymity, no documentation is
made of the requests.

Reduce Unnecessary Consumption of Medical Services
Use guidelines for approving non-emergent hospitalization and certain other care—Many state and
local corrections systems have implemented a process called “Utilization Management” (UM) to
evaluate the appropriateness of the type and level of the health care services requested by staff, or by
inmates. This is similar to cost-containment strategies used by commercial health insurance companies
in the general population.
Based on a patient’s symptoms, the UM system uses pre-established guidelines to determine “the types
of medical services that would be reasonable, necessary, and effective.” 12 Once guidelines have been
developed, corrections health systems often set up a process known as prospective review where an
independent UM specialist reviews referrals for non-urgent specialty medical treatment that is
unavailable in the correctional facility. The decision standards can be overridden if the specialist or the
referring physician determines extenuating circumstances require the care. Override rates should be
monitored; rates exceeding ten percent might indicate either a lack of acceptance of the UM system by
medical staff or problems with the guidelines as developed. 13
This process has enabled corrections systems to reduce the amount of unnecessary medical services
provided to inmates and to reduce the incidence of defensive medicine “by providing physicians with an
objective and evidence-based justification for denying unnecessary medical treatment.” 14

Florida: The Florida Department of Corrections started a UM program in the early 1990s that cut
spending on hospitalization by 5% in its first two years (from $11.9 million in FY 1990 to $11.3
million in FY1992), despite a 20% increase in the average daily prison population during the


Lesansky, 2010.
Only a few correctional systems offer this program because most have laws that prohibit sexual activity among
inmates, and do not want to appear as condoning the activity.
Taylor, 2012.
Taylor, 2012.
Taylor, 2012.


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same time period. 15 The true net savings may have been close to 21 percent, if hospitalization
was requested for the increased population at the same rate as the existing population. 16
In a later (2008) version of the program, Florida established a formal UM board composed of
corrections department nurses and doctors, responsible for reviewing each case recommended
for hospital admission to determine if treatment at a hospital was necessary. In its first 10
months (January-October 2008), the department reported that it avoided 539 prisoner
admissions, reduced the length of hospital stays, and saved $4.9 million. 17

Federal Bureau of Prisons: In 1995, the BOP started a process by which policy and medical
personnel reviewed and approved medical treatment requested by BOP field personnel before
prisoners could receive surgery or in-patient hospitalization services. A reduction in the number
of external care visits resulted in $785,000 savings in 1998. 18


California: Although the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has
been using a UM system since 1996, the system was not as effective as they wished. Changes in
administration (namely, the appointment of a Receiver) led to significant cost savings.
Expenditures on contracts for specialty medical care services declined by 44 percent, from $695
million in 2008-09 to $388 million in 2010-11, primarily due to a decline in referrals for the
specialty care. Between October 2009 and October 2011, the rate of referrals decreased from
98 to 70 per 1,000 prisoners per month. 19
Data on the rate at which medical staff override the recommendations of the UM system
indicate that the UM system may not be used consistently across the system’s 33 prisons. The
override rate ranged from less than 10 percent in two prisons to more than 40 percent in three
others. A proposed solution was to centralize control of the UM system so that overrides require
approval by headquarters staff, to include UM override data in monthly performance reports,
and to increase training on use of UM. California estimates that a reduction in the override rate
to 10 percent could result in approximately 19,000 avoided referrals and another $80 million
saved annually. 20

A formal system of Utilization Management and Prospective Review may also help guard against law
suits as well as reducing costs of care. Inmates in a number of jurisdictions have sued over inadequate
health care. Consideration of the reasons for lawsuits and measure to avoid them can save millions of
dollars. Between 1996 and 2002, the State of Washington spent more than $1.26 million for judgments,
settlements and claims regarding poor prison health care. 21
We did not find reports showing the amount, if any, of adverse effects from using UM in jails or prisons.
UM is widely used and generally accepted by insurance companies and Medicare for the general
population. The continued use of UM in many prisons and jails implies no major impacts, but it would be
desirable to have research on adverse impacts.


Kinsella, 2004.
We computed the 21 percent as follows: (1.2-.95)/1.2= 0.21.
Kinsella, 2004.
GAO, 2000.
Taylor, 2012.
Taylor, 2012
Kinsella, 2004.


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Require co-payments for medical visits—Prisoners who are not indigent can be asked to make an
annual co-payment for their health care, or co-pay for each medical service required, much as required
by many medical insurance plans used for the general population. A small survey of jails in 2005 found
that approximately 60% assess a co-pay for pharmacy (usually about $5) and medical office / physician
visits (usually about $10). About half of the jails surveyed (45%) assess a co-pay for nurse/LPN visits
(usually $5) or for dental examinations/care (usually $10), while a quarter of jails charge a fee for eye
care examination and prescriptions, with exams usually costing $10 and prescriptions $15. According to
the report 22:
Jurisdictions vary widely in how they charge and account for inmates fees… Some jails charge
different fees for visits with a nurse or physician, while others simply charge for “medical office
visits,” which includes both categories of care, or assess a single [annual]“medical fee” that
includes a broad range of services, including pharmacy, dental care, and eye care… Timing and
the specific circumstances of fee payment also vary. In some jurisdictions, small co-pay is
charged at each visit to a medical service provider. Some jurisdictions noted that outstanding
medical fees from a prior time in jail are collected upfront at a later booking.
A survey of state corrections health systems in 2009 found that the vast majority of states assess some
type of medical co-payment, which often is not applied if the individual is indigent, has a chronic
disease, needs emergency care, suffered a work-related injury, or is staff-ordered. The state prison
system in New Hampshire assessed a co-pay of $3 and collected $19,000 in annual revenue; exemptions
were made for indigent inmates or those who had suffered a work-related injury. 23
The intent of inmate co-pay programs is not to generate revenue, as the fee/co-pay amounts tend to be
small and collection rates low due to the large numbers of indigent inmates. 24 Instead, they serve as a
“low-threshold deterrent” to frivolous sick calls. 25 The National Commission on Correctional Health Care
(NCCHC), in its discussion of inmate medical co-payment programs, notes that sick calls are abused by
some inmates, which strains available resources and makes it more difficult to provide adequate care for
inmates who really need the attention. 26 However, despite the intended benefits of co-pays and their
prevalence in jails, the NCCHC is opposed to the establishment of a fee-for-service or co-payment
program. In a 1996 policy statement, re-affirmed in 2005, the commission expressed concern that
inmates with limited resources may delay or forgo care in order to purchase commissary items, pay legal
fees, or support dependents; as a result, their perceived "minor" medical issues may worsen,
endangering the health of the inmate and heightening the risk that communicable infections will be
spread. 27
Research is needed to see if the negative effects of co-pays do occur, and whether the co-pays in fact
save money. A review of fee-based systems under consideration in Florida noted that money might not
be saved when the entire system is taken into account. This includes the amount of time needed by the
nurse to initiate the co-pay, then to deduct funds from the inmate’s account, and lastly the time used in
investigating complaints or grievances by inmates over the charges for services. 28


Krauth & Stayton, 2005.
Hill, C., 2010.
Krauth & Stayton, 2005.
Krauth & Stayton, 2005.
NCCHC, 2005.
NCCHC, 2005.
McGillen, c. 2009.


Page 14

In light of these concerns, the NCCHC recommends against instituting a fee-based model for medical
services and instead, advocates for “a properly administered sick call program, [which] keeps costs
down through a good triage system [and] has a lower level of qualified staff. See the complaining inmate
first, with referral on to higher levels of staff only as medically indicated.” Recognizing that some
corrections systems will implement such a model; the NCCHC also includes recommendations for how a
jurisdiction should implement an inmate medical co-payment system:


Examine the management of sick call, use of emergency services, system of triage, and other
aspects of the health care system for efficiency and efficacy.
Track the incidence of disease and all other health problems pre- and post-implementation; data
should demonstrate that adverse outcome indicators, as well as incidents of delayed diagnosis
and treatment of serious medical problems within the facility, are either consistent with or
lower than the levels before implementation.
Inform inmates on the details of the fee-for-service program upon admission, including
situations in which they will or will not be assessed a fee.
Assess a fee only for services initiated by the inmate and after the services have been rendered.
Keep fees low
Require that care not be denied because of a record of non-payment or current inability to pay.
Ensure that inmates have a minimum balance in their account to access necessary hygiene items
and over-the-counter medications.
Develop a grievance system that tracks complaints regarding the program; a consistently high
rate of grievances should draw attention to the need to work with staff to address specific
problems that may have accompanied the fee-for-service program.
Discontinue the program upon evidence of increased infection rates, delayed diagnosis and
treatment of medical problems, or other adverse outcomes.

While we did not find evidence about how effective co-pays were in reducing costs and what effects
they may or might not have on inmate health, they seem worth a trial, primarily because co-pays have
been used in many jails and prisons over several years, and the reports on them implicitly imply they
have been successful. Jails or prisons might consider implementing co-pays for a year, at least for
inmates who are not indigent, have a prison bank account and use the canteen system. If tried, it would
be advisable to follow the NCCHC guidelines (if for nothing else than legal protection), and determine
the savings vs. inmate complaints, and indicators of impacts on health.

Divert/Release Sick Individuals
Although treatment and detox centers may be a better option than jail for individuals with serious
mental health and/or substance abuse issues, many jurisdictions lack adequate amounts of these
services, leaving law enforcement to detain individuals who have these problems and who have
allegedly committed low-level offenses. Some jurisdictions have developed diversion programs and
facilities to house those with a very short-term need for confinement, such as for inebriation, often with
significant cost savings. 29

Washington DC: The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) operates the Frequent User
Service Enhancement (FUSE) program in DC, which places individuals into permanent supportive
housing in an effort to reduce consumption of jail, shelter, and emergency system resources. 30
Seattle, WA: The Downtown Emergency Service Center, funded through the city’s “Housing
First” program, built a 75-unit facility for chronically inebriated homeless individuals. The facility

Hall, 1987; American Jail Association, 1994; Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2000.
Fontaine et al, 2011.


Page 15

provides permanent housing and access to services to help reduce consumption of alcohol and
illicit substances. Initial findings suggest that local agencies and support services had saved $4
million in spending on this population in the first year of operations. 31

Minneapolis, MN: The “Downtown 100” program targets 50 “frequent users” who commit
crimes in the 120-block downtown core. Community-based organizations and agencies work
with police officers, prosecutors, probation officers, and others to define a path to a better,
more crime-free future for the chronic offenders. After its first year, crime committed by the 50
offenders dropped by 74 percent, and the percent with housing rose from 20 percent to 50
percent during 2010. 32 [For future research, one could compare the cost of the program vs.
estimated savings that would have accrued if the 74 percent of the minor crimes that were
deterred had resulted in jail terms.]


New York City: A pilot program like the Washington DC DOC FUSE program found that the
program pays for itself in averted system costs, and began to generate savings in year 3 (if used
for large numbers of people diverted from jail terms). 33

Court reminders for people who are arraigned—Individuals with chronic mental and physical health
issues (and perhaps others too) may need reminders so they do not miss court appearances. Missed
appearances slow case processing and lead to more frequent and longer detentions in jail. Some local
governments have developed court appearance notification systems that significantly reduce failure to
appear rates. 34

Coconino County, AZ: The county developed a program where a volunteer from the police
department calls individuals who had received a citation to remind them of their upcoming
arraignment. Of the group that was called, 12.9 percent failed to appear in court, compared to
25.4 percent of the control group; when the volunteer callers were able to speak directly with
the defendant, the failure to appear rate diminished to 5.9 percent. 35

Missing court appearances can lead to more frequent and longer detentions in the jail, generating
added health costs. Reminder programs are typically operated by the courts or by pretrial service
agencies, but require partnership with the jails in order to determine which individuals are in custody
and do not need to be contacted. Data were not available on the impact of this program on reduced
inmate admissions and inmate-days, which if collected could easily be translated to estimated cost
savings, because the cost of initial health screening and average daily health costs are known.
Screening arrestees prior to bringing them to jail—Sometimes arrestees are injured or ill and need
virtually immediate health care. If brought to the jail and then they shortly have to be taken to a hospital
or other medical care, the costs are higher than if they were taken under guard directly to the medical
care. It also can cost extra if the arrestee is taken to a hospital needlessly before being taken to jail. The
question is who screens them to make this determination.

Pinellas County, FL: the county developed an “Ask a Nurse Program” in which law enforcement
officers of any jurisdiction in the county can call the jail and speak with a Medical Supervisor

Larimer et al, 2009.
Brandt, 2011.
Corporation for Supportive Housing, 2009.
Community Resources for Justice, 2011.
White, 2006.


Page 16

about injuries to an arrested subject, and whether they should be transported to the jail or a
hospital. 36

The second major strategy for reducing inmate health care costs is to reduce the cost of delivering
medical care to an inmate when needed. This includes lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals, and the
cost of medical visits and procedures.

Reduce Cost of Pharmaceuticals
Some jails may be paying too much for inmate medications. There are several approaches to reducing
their costs.
Use cheaper equivalents—It almost goes almost without saying that generics should be used in place of
name brands where the drugs are considered medically equivalent. Physicians do need to be able to
override the use of generics when not totally equivalent or for reasons of a particular patient’s medical
issues, but usually the generics are fine. Use of generics with overrides is widely used for the general
population, and should be done for inmates, too.

Florida: The Department of Corrections increased its use of generic drugs. For example, it
removed Seroquel® from its formulary and replaced Risperdal® with a generic for the
treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Between April and September 2008, the
DOC spent $1.3 million less for frequently used anti-psychotic drugs than during the same
period in 2007.37

In addition to generics, there are many non-generic drugs that are as effective as others that cost more.
A corrections department can establish a list of preferred medications based on effectiveness and unit
cost factors. In his report on pharmaceutical cost savings for jails, Dr. J. Keller highlights three reasons
why medications that produce the same results in patients are priced at different rates. 38
1. Name: Many medicines are identical in efficacy but cost very different amounts to administer.
For example, one day’s therapy with cephalexin costs $1.32, while one day’s therapy with
Ceftin – an antibiotic oral cephalosporin identical in efficacy – is $8.04.
2. Dosage: The dosage of a medicine may affect its cost to administer. Some medicines cost more,
not less, per unit for larger quantities. One 150 mg tablet of Amitriptyline costs $0.24, whereas
the cost of a 75 mg tablet is only $.07; prescribing two 75 mg tablets rather than one 150 mg
tablet will save 42% of the l prescription price.
Sometimes the pricing is reversed, and medications cost less for a large pill than a smaller one.
For example, the price of a ranitidine 150 mg tablet is $0.34. The larger 300 mg pill is actually
cheaper at $0.32. Splitting the larger pill can result in savings of 53 percent. Dyazide, which has a
typical dose of 25/37.5 mg. Splitting a 50/75 mg tablet (which costs $0.04) is less expensive than


McGillen, c. 2009.
Lize et al, 2009.
Keller, 2003.


Page 17

prescribing a 25/37.5 tablet at $0.32 per pill. One must also consider the cost of nurses or others
in splitting tablets, if significant, which may affect the cost-tradeoff for splitting pills.
Cost anomalies in different size pills may result from one size being the most common to
prescribe, and is produced in much larger quantities than other sizes, with attendant economies
of scale.
3. Packaging: Pharmaceutical companies often package therapies that include multiple ingredients
into single doses – and charge accordingly. For example, the American College of
Gastroenterology recommends treating H. pylori with four agents. “Since it is hard for
practitioners to remember what the four agents are, not to mention the doses and lengths of
treatment, the pharmaceutical companies have conveniently packaged H. pylori therapy under
the trade names Previpac and Helidac.” These two therapies cost $272.50 and $156.76,
respectively, but if the provider were to prescribe the ingredients individually, the total price
would be $33.60.
Knowledge of such cost factors can help in choosing equally effective medication at lower cost.
Negotiate lower prices, or join a buying consortium—Jails and prisons often purchase medications
through discounted rates, but where not done, the following approaches might be considered.
The cost of a pharmaceutical preferably should be no more than the lesser of the State Medicaid price,
Average Wholesale Price, or store sale price. 39 Lower costs may be obtained by negotiation with drug
companies or pharmacies, or joining buyer consortiums.
State Medicaid price: The former (federal) Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA,) now
reorganized into the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services, negotiated with the
pharmaceutical industry low prices for drugs for Medicaid patients. Although jails cannot
purchase drugs for inmates under Medicaid (inmates do not qualify), jails can try to negotiate
paying the HCFA price. The HCFA prices are available on line. They have two components, the
Federal Upper Limit (FUL) and the Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC). With this information one
can price shop for a pharmacy willing to charge the state Medicaid rate. 40
AWP less a discount: For drugs that do not have an HCFA price, jails or prisons can offer to pay
a discount from the Average Wholesale Price (AWP). The AWP is derived from manufacturers
and distributors prices for every drug on the market. On average, the AWP is at least 20% above
true wholesale costs (and for some drugs it is as much as 65% above AWP.) Jails might propose
paying say 12% below AWP, still a reasonable profit for the pharmaceutical provider.
Sale price: Pharmacies often put certain drugs on sale as an advertising strategy. Sometimes
sale prices are less than the true wholesale cost and provide a potential cost saving opportunity.
Some jails have also been able to negotiate lower “fill fees,” or the price a pharmacy charges to fill a
prescription. The fill fee usually remains constant no matter how large the prescription. One can ask to
pay less, or to pay the HCFA fill fee rate.

Keller, 2003.
Keller, 2003.


Page 18

Under Medicaid rules, pharmacies may charge fill fees only once per month for ongoing prescriptions. 41
Jails may seek ways to reduce the number of prescriptions written, especially small prescriptions, to take
advantage of monthly bulk purchase prices. Another approach is to use a “stat box …the functional
equivalent to the sample medication closet in most doctors’ offices, [which] contains bubble-packed
cards of the medications that [are] prescribe[d] most frequently.” A well-stocked stat box will reduce fill
fees and may eliminate the need for an on-call pharmacist who may charge a premium for after-hours
work. 42

New Hampshire: The NH State Department of Corrections participates in a multi-state
regional pharmaceutical buying group, and was able to purchase drugs at 40% below the
wholesale price. 43


Florida: Florida joined the Minnesota Multi-State pharmaceutical purchasing cooperative
and used in-house rather than contract personnel to dispense the drugs. This saved $2.4
million in 2008. That continued to 2012. In 2012 the State of Florida was considering its own
statewide purchasing of pharmaceuticals for all health agencies; if the costs are lower than
those from the Minnesota consortium, the state DOC will switch. 44 Florida DOC also
partners with the Florida Department of Health to obtain discounts for drugs to treat
inmates with HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. 45


Federal BOP and VA: The BOP cooperates with other agencies to save money through bulk
purchasing. In 1993, the Department of Veterans Affairs included BOP in contracts to obtain
discounts on high-volume purchases of pharmaceuticals. The result was an average annual
savings of $760,000. 46

Inmate purchase of over-the counter drugs—Some correctional systems allow inmates to purchase over
the counter drugs with their own funds from an in-house pharmacy. This can save money in two ways:
self-treatment for minor ailments without burdening the medical system, and lower medication costs
than what might be prescribed. While indigent inmates will not be able to afford purchasing their own
OTC medications, many other inmates can afford them. It is relatively easy to implement payments
where inmate populations already make purchases of other sundries. OTC drugs then can be treated
the same as any other sundry. Some worry about inmates overmedicating themselves, or mixing drugs
improperly, and that is a concern but is not mentioned as a major problem for inmates in articles we
read on the subject.
Federal Bureau of Prisons: BOP reported saving $1.2 million in FY 1999 by allowing inmates to
purchase 36 types of OTC pharmaceuticals. Inmates were given access to the commissary once a
week for such purchases. They also expected this practice to reduce the number of inmate sick
calls but did not report on the results. BOP has considered adding pharmaceutical vending
machines to this initiative, which would allow inmates access to some OTC drugs 24-hours a day,
7 days a week. 47

Keller, 2003.
Keller, 2003.
Kinsella, 2004.
Riemers, 2012.
Lize et al, 2009.
GAO, 2000.
GAO, 2000.


Page 19

Reduce Cost of Using Outside Medical Care
Various technologies and approaches may help reduce the cost of outside medical care when the
capability is not available inside the jail.
Use of telemedicine — Telemedicine, the delivery of health care services via interactive audio and video
technology, can reduce the cost of delivering care and increase inmate access to care—particularly
specialty care. Live images of the patient can be transmitted over broadband internet or telephone lines
to a doctor’s office. Equipment such as exam cameras, monitors, and electronic stethoscopes allow
physicians to treat patients remotely without meeting face-to-face. 48
Telemedicine is used by many public and private health care providers throughout the country to treat
patients who otherwise would have to travel long distances to confer with a health care professional.
Telemedicine is used to provide some health care service to inmates in 26 of 44 states surveyed by the
Corrections Compendium. 49
The cost of guarding inmates transported to medical care outside of prison is approximately $2,000 per
inmate per 24 hours. 50 Even for part of a day, the costs associated with transporting an inmate to care
can be substantial. Contract costs with physicians may also be lower using telemedicine because it
provides the opportunity for a larger pool of physicians to bid, rather than only those near the prison. 51
Depending on the frequency with which telemedicine is used; the costs for staffing and the start-up
costs for the equipment, and then maintenance, may be less than the savings generated from avoiding
outside medical trips, as found in examples below.
Some research reports find that use of telemedicine in prisons or jails is more effective for some
specialties such as radiology, psychiatry and dermatology, and less effective for other specialties, such as
cardiology and orthopedics. 52 Telecommunication costs have been dropping and video has been
improving in clarity, so the cost and utility may well improve with time. 53
Correctional facilities have found that telemedicine has some side benefits: Telemedicine increases
public safety by requiring fewer inmate transports outside the facility. And telemedicine also may
improve inmates’ access to health care by expanding the provider network to include specialists and
some physicians who would not otherwise see inmates. 54

Texas and Ohio: These states reported saving $200-$1,000 every time they used
telemedicine to prevent an external office visit. The average cost of installing
telemedicine in a prison unit ranged from $50,000 to $75,000, depending on the type of
equipment and whether communication lines needed to be added. It cost about $60 per
hour to communicate for telemedicine. 55


Taylor, 2012.
Hill, 2010.
GAO, 2000.
Taylor, 2012.
Abt Associates, 1999.
Taylor, 2012.
Taylor, 2012.
Kinsella, 2004.


Page 20


Lewisburg Federal Prison: Lewisburg conducted a trial of telemedicine to determine its
impact on costs. For 35 external consultations the average cost was estimated to be
$788. This included medical care expenses ($320), administrative expenses ($197), and
security/escort costs ($271). For the 35 avoided external consultations the savings was
California: In the past few years, the Receiver in California has designated a number of
specialty care services for which telemedicine is to be used unless the physicians involved
consider it impractical. Policy makers have contemplated expanding the use of telemedicine
to primary care, particularly at geographically remote prisons where it is difficult to hire
qualified physicians. A recent report estimates that if the rate of telemedicine utilization in
California was increased to a rate similar to Texas (about 40,000 annual appointments),
annual savings would be in the low tens of millions of dollars. 57


Pennsylvania: Use of telemedicine averted 13 or 14 medical air transfers to Federal
Medical Centers from three Pennsylvania prisons, saving about $59,000. All but one of
these avoided transfers were psychiatric patients who would have been airlifted to
MCFP-Springfield. 58

Renegotiate fees for hospital and clinical services—Prices for hospitalization and doctor visits vary
depending on a number of factors. Without comprising service quality, some corrections agencies across
the nation have been able to negotiate better deals when armed with more knowledge on true costs
and by joining forces with other institutions to obtain economies of scale and bargaining power (similar
to what was discussed above for purchasing medications). Some corrections agencies have joined or
developed a network of health care providers with competitive rates for medical and dental services
that cannot be provided in-house.

Georgia: In 2008, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia introduced the
Inmate Medical Savings Program, which allowed counties to send jail inmates to the hospital
and be charged the Blue Cross /Blue Shield of Georgia discounted network rates. Counties
saved approximately 59% of billed charges. In 2011, a law (O.C.G.A. § 42-4-15) limits the
amount hospitals could charge for “Emergency Care” and “Follow-up Care” to the allowable
Medicaid rate. 59


Scott County, IL: Inmates are given temporary health insurance cards if they are to be
treated outside the jail. This saved the county $74,342 in its first six months of full
implementation. Under the new plan, (administered by United Healthcare), inmates receive
discounts similar to what an insured patient would receive. About; 30 percent of the applied
discounts are collected by United Healthcare. The card is canceled when the inmate is
released. 60


Florida: The Florida Department of Corrections negotiated contracts with 32 community
hospitals and specialists for discounts on inmate health care. For example, a provider at


McDonald et al. 1999.
Taylor, 2012.
McDonald et al. 1999.
ACCG, 2011.
Allemeier, 2011.


Page 21

the University of Florida medical center charged 30% below its standard billing rates. 61
More recently, a FY 2009-10 statutes forbids the state from paying more than 110% of
the Medicare rate, and this is now used to negotiate rates. 62
Share medical services jointly with other organization- In some situations, doctors providing care for a
government organization outside of the corrections department might share the government’s medical
resources and prices with the corrections department.

Bureau of Prisons/US Marshals: In New York State, Veterans Administration physicians
work in medical specialty clinics at federal BOP facilities to treat prisoners under custody
of both the federal BOP and U.S. Marshals Service. 63

Use medical students for screening— Some health care services, such as routine intake screening,
might be delivered less expensively by medical students under supervision of a licensed doctor, as often
is done in teaching hospitals. The competency of the students is likely to be lower than licensed doctors,
which may open the corrections department to law suits for inadequate care if, say, a student misses an
infectious disease that spreads.
Use of medical students may be most useful where there is a limited pool of doctors willing to go into
jails, and where there are teaching hospitals in the area. Medical students might be attracted by the
possibility of getting to see medical conditions not often observed in the general population.
We did not find an example of the use of medical students in this limited study, but did not want to lose
the idea entirely.
Arrange for lockdown area in hospitals —Where inmate hospital usage volume warrants it, having an
area of a hospital with lock down capability and a wide range of medical specialties reduces the number
of correction officer hours needed to watch inmate patients-- the two guards per inmate needed round
the clock when inmates are mixed with the general hospital population.
Federal: Some BOP prisons eliminated 24-hour medical staff coverage where emergency care
was readily available in the community. BOP reports that this generated cost savings averaging
about $1.6 million per year. 64 Impacts on inmate health were not reported.

Use In-House Medical Services When Less Expensive
Where volume warrants it, and enough doctors and dentists are willing, medical and dental services
sometimes can be provided less expensively by personnel on a corrections payroll than by private
providers. Providing services in-house saves correction officer time for transport. Costs of an in-house
medical employee are likely to be less than one pays outside.
In-house vs. contracting out—In-house staff may be used only for selected services.


Lize et al, 2009.
Reimers, 2012.
GAO, 2000.
GAO, 2000.


Page 22


Washington DC: The DOC realized about $500,000 savings per year in avoided correctional
officer transport just by moving dialysis treatment in house. As a side benefit, this also
reduced the potential for contraband to be introduced into the facility and improved public
safety by lowering risk of outsider contact with inmates.


Florida: Florida has gone back and forth on the use of in-house vs. outside medical care.
Circa 2008, the Florida Department of Corrections replaced contracted private medical
service providers with state employees for inmate dental care and pharmaceutical services
in its Region IV. They reported saving $4.5 million annually. 65 In order to hire and retain inhouse medical personnel the Florida DOC realized it had to raise the salaries of medical
personnel. So, for example, they increased in-house dentist salaries in March 2008 by 50%,
from $68,153 to $99,000. This was still less expensive than sending inmates to private
dentists. They also were able to save money by retaining qualified nurses and reducing use
of contract nurses. Contracting out for nursing positions also incurred the cost of the
premium to employment agencies that provided the nurses. 66 ′ 67
In 2012, Florida DOC was required to reduce its budget by 7%, as part of across the board
state budget cuts, and to reduce its number of employees. To cope with the restrictions it
was planning at the time of this writing to again outsource much inmate medical care, with
the estimate that it will save at least 7 percent. 68

Reduce nurse time spent dispensing medications—One of the most time consuming activities in any
healthcare system is the distribution of medications. The current medication administration process in
Washington DC jail is as follows, 69 and is probably fairly typical:
1. Pharmacy orders medications in bulk and stores inside the pharmacy, one at each jail facility
2. Pharmacy provides enough medication for seven days of treatment for each inmate.
Medications are re-stocked approximately every five days, excluding narcotics, injections, and
refrigerated medications, which are stored in the nurses’ medication room.
3. Meds are stored in a med cart in locked environment, the medication room, to which nurses
have access.
4. Pharmacy places package of meds includes name, DCDC#, and name of meds with directions
inside individually labeled inmate tray on med cart.
5. The nurse takes the entire cart to the inmate housing unit to administer the meds. The inmates
wait in line behind the sally port door, which puts them out of sight and sound of the
transaction between the nurse and inmate who is receiving the medication.
6. The nurse utilizes the medication administration record (MAR) which includes instructions for
administering the meds for each inmate.
7. The nurse administers the meds, careful to ensure they swallow. The nurse must then initial the
MAR to indicate the inmate received the med(s). If they refuse, or do not receive meds for any
reason, the nurse must indicate the reason. (MAR is hard copy only, not electronic).


Lize et al, 2009.
Lize et al, 2009.
McGillen, c.2009.
Riemers, 2012.
Schroth, 2009.


Page 23

There appear to be some ways to improve the efficiency of this sort of drug dispensing process:

San Bernardino, CA: In collaboration with a private vendor, pharmacy, and IT departments,
the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office developed a portable machine that eliminates the timeconsuming task of medication preparation by storing, packaging and labeling individual
inmate mediations. When nurses are ready to distribute medications to inmates, they go to
the machine, log in specific information, and the machine produces the medications. They
reduced nurse time and virtually eliminated medication errors. The new system can package
1500 prescriptions in about 45 minutes. 70


Florida Counties--An informal survey found six out of seven populous counties in Florida
prepared and distributed inmate medications at cell side. Nurses bring medications to the
inmate housing areas and prepare them in the inmate’s presence. 71 This process was said to
reduce medication waste, but it took more nurse time, and also more security staff time to
escort the nurse making the rounds. Medication distribution times can be optimized when
medical and security staff schedules can be synchronized. 72 (No data was available on the
time saved, but it was reported as significant, and that there was an improvement in service
quality—fewer errors).

Use lower paid positions for non-critical medical services—Some procedures and tasks might be
undertaken by lower skilled and lower paid positions. For instance, physician’s assistants and nurse
practitioners might be used for taking vitals and patient history as part of medical exams. This is
common practice in hospitals and doctors’ offices for the general population.
Federal BOP: Some BOP prisons have switched to using lower-salaried medical personnel
instead of physicians for doing certain non-primary health care duties in-house. This initiative
reportedly generated annual savings of about $5.5 million. 73 The savings came not only from the
lower salaries but a reduction in trips to community medical providers. 74
Drop 24 hours coverage where not needed — Some corrections systems that used to provide 24 hour
medical coverage in-house have dropped coverage at night when community emergency care is readily
available nearby, and feasible to get to the inmates in a reasonable amount of time. Getting an inmate
to emergency care in the middle of the night is not as straightforward as it is for the general
population—the EMTs have to be protected while going into the facility and getting to the inmate. Then
correction officers have to accompany the inmate to external care if the EMTs cannot solve the problem
There is no doubt that the time to get to medical care in an emergency increases when there are no inhouse medical resources. The question is how often does the need arise, how acute are the medical
problems, and whether EMTs can get to the patient quickly enough. Often corrections officers are given
some basics in life saving measures, which is another factor to consider. Another option is to train some
corrections officers as EMTs, which is discussed below.


Rundle, 2009 c.f. McGillen.
McGillen, c.2009.
McGillen, c.2009.
GAO, 2000.
GAO, 2000.


Page 24

Training corrections officers as EMTs—A relatively untried approach is to train corrections officers as
EMTs to do some medical tasks, as firefighters have long been trained. This not only may reduce the
need for 24-hour medical coverage, but also may be valuable for several reasons itself.
Here again one has to be concerned about litigation when things go wrong. One expensive law suit can
wipe out a lot of cost savings. On the other hand, the same situation faced the firefighters who first
provided emergency health care, and that is now routine. When we discussed this concept with a senior
DOC official he noted that having corrections officers trained as EMTs might improve relations between
them and inmates. It also might be good for attracting new COs and providing career advancement for
existing COs.
Use longer nursing shifts — Some jurisdictions have found that using 12-hour shifts for in-house
medical personnel instead of the usual 8-hour shifts, especially for nursing staff, can reduce required
staffing levels and personnel costs. Efficiency may also increase from having fewer shift changes (less
hand offs of duties and patient information). That may work to patients’ benefits, or it may not if fatigue
causes errors.
Pinellas and Orange Counties, Florida—These counties utilize 12-hour schedule and claim
efficiencies. 75

Tighten Contracting and Auditing
Use per capita contracting if contracting out services — Corrections systems may or may not save
money by contracting out some or all inmate medical services to managed health care organizations.
Even if contracting is used, the liability for failure to provide adequate health care to inmates still rests
with the government. 76
Private organizations have greater incentive and fewer bureaucratic barriers to employing cost-efficient
measures. A review of prison health care systems in 2009 found that at least 34 states contracted out
some or all aspects of their adult correctional health care services, typically with private prison health
care providers. 77 A small but growing number of states contract with public universities to provide
corrections health services.
Private correctional health providers typically offer medical care contracts on a per inmate basis, which
“allows the [government] to shift the financial risk to the provider [and] creates a strong incentive for
the provider to carefully manage care and control costs through a variety of management techniques.” 78
A 2000 study by the National Institute of Corrections found that the cost of providing health services to
inmates was about $2.00 less per inmate per day [over $700 less per year] in states that used capitated
rate contracts.
Some people are concerned that the cost savings from contracting out may come with lower quality
health care. However, contract healthcare providers have incentive to avoid lowering standards of care
because it might affect their marketing success. But the pressure to be profitable could lead to lower


McGillen, c. 2009. Article reported that there were savings but not their magnitude.
Faiver, 1997.
Hill, 2010; Taylor, 2012.
Taylor 2012.


Page 25

medical staffing levels, delayed replacement of outdated equipment or limiting of services. 79 An analysis
in California reiterates this point, noting that cost savings from contracting should be weighed against
other factors, such as the quality of care. For this reason, contracting for care is recommended on a pilot
basis for an agency that has not been using it or if a new provider is chosen, to determine the positive
and negative impacts on costs and quality of care. 80

Michigan: Michigan Department of Corrections went through a competitive bid process
and switched private health care providers. In the process Michigan required some cost
saving features in the contract, including more focus on preventive care, electronic
medical records and telemedicine. 81 There was a 20% decline in emergency room use
and a 40% decline in use of outpatient hospital services experienced under the new


Kansas: A private entity provides medical, mental health and dental care to inmates at an
annual rate of about $4,900 per inmate. To ensure that the provider is not denying inmates
care, the contract required detailed accounting of how the provider’s budget is allocated
and how much profit it is earning. The contract includes performance measures that must
be met to avoid penalties. For example, if an inmate does not receive a physical exam within
seven days of admission to a prison, the private provider is assessed a $100 fine. One report
found that the cost of inmate health care per inmate in Kansas increased less than in other
states: a 9 percent average annual increase between 2000 and 2008, compared to 11
percent in 22 other states over the same time period. 82


Florida: In a 2009 report, the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government
Accountability identified several factors that led to their failed outsourcing effort. The report
found that FDOC failed to adequately monitor and oversee its contracts with private health
care providers. The department reportedly failed to (1) clearly articulate the terms and
conditions of contracts, including penalties for noncompliance; (2) establish performance
measures; and (3) properly train contract monitoring staff. In addition, they found that the
state had failed to obtain inmate health care services at the lowest possible cost because
contracts were often awarded without a competitive bidding process. 83 After providing
mostly in-house care and some selected external care since 2009, Florida in 2012 was
planning to again outsource care, in part because of cutbacks in the number of state
employees allowed, according to the head of their inmate care in conversations with our
research staff. 84


California: A review of California’s corrections health costs estimated that moving to a
capitated contract would result in savings of over $100 million annually. 85

Comparing the quality and cost of inmate medical care in facilities before and after contracting would
provide better evidence on the impact of contracting for primary inmate medical care services; but this


McGillen, c. 2009.
Taylor, 2012.
WILX, 2009.
Taylor, 2012
Lize et al, 2009.
Reimers, 2012.
Taylor, 2012.


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is not possible if the services are always contracted out. The experience cited above in Florida may
provide some data as they had outsourced, taken it back in house, and are planning to outsource again
Contracts for health care should use a competitive bidding process that incentivizes providers to deliver
care in the most cost-effective way possible.
Contracts should specify performance (including service quality) measures that should be met as well as
specific penalties that will be assessed if they are not. Implicit to this process is having adequate
oversight staff and a relevant performance measurement system.
Check bills for errors —Errors sometimes occur in medical billing. It is important to review bills against
internal documentation to check the type and amount of medications and services requested. One jail
system detected an error on their bill in which they were charged for the number of milligrams of
medication used rather than the number of pills! 86 Their original charge was $795.21 (in number of
milligrams), whereas the correct charge was $30.45 (in number of pills). The charges were buried within
several pages of medication charges. Similar errors have been reported in other jurisdictions. It is
important to have a meticulous process for reviewing bills. Eventually, this type of audit might be

When addressing cost reduction, it is may be more effective to undertake a set of integrated changes at
one time rather than many separate actions, to achieve synergism and to raise awareness of the focus
on cost efficiency.
State of Florida—In the 2008 Florida Corrections Department adopted a combination of the
practices to reduce prison health care costs. They reduced daily average costs from $13.03 in
the previous year to $11. 87 We discussed above their new practices individually. They included
increasing use of dental and pharmaceutical services; institution of a hospitalization utilization
management system, increased number of secure beds in local hospitals, joining the Minnesota
Multi-State pharmaceutical purchasing cooperative, using in-house rather than contract
personnel to dispense drugs, and centralized procurement and use of statewide contracts to
eliminate regional differences and increase purchasing power. These efforts resulted in a $12.5
million savings from the first half of fiscal year 2008/2009 compared to the same period the
previous year. Previously the Florida Department of Corrections had reported a 37% increase of
healthcare costs between 2003 and 2008. 88
Federal Bureau of Prisons—The BOP implemented a package of 20 initiatives to reduce costs of
inmate health care across more than 100 federal prisons. 89 Some noteworthy specifics were
discussed in the examples above.


Keller, 2003.
Lize et al, 2009.
Lize et al, 2009.
U.S. Dept. of Justice, 2008.


Page 27

Sources—We started with a series of internet searches for material on inmate health care costs in
jurisdictions across the nation. We followed up some of the more promising approaches by contacting
the source organization, which usually was a local, state or federal corrections department. We worked
especially closely with the Washington DC Department of Corrections, which shared much of their
inmate health cost data and current approaches to cost savings.
There were not adequate project resources to go back to the prime data nor to follow up with contacts
on all of the potentially good practices; rather than not include them, we indicated the data limitations
and what further data would be useful to validate them.
Some of the examples here from state and local governments are 10-20 years old, and their originating
organization may not still be using the practices discussed. We researched the continuation of some of
the practices, but included older practices if they had documented cost savings and seemed like good
ideas, even if no longer used. Some practices are dropped for political reasons (e.g. limitation on the
number of government employees or the use of outside contracting), and some for other reasons that
did not detract from their potential use elsewhere.
Measuring Inmate health — A major flaw in the published research on inmate health is lack of
information on how the cost-saving approaches being used affect inmate health. In some cases, such as
reducing costs of medication by use of generics, sufficient evidence exists that there is little or no impact
on health by analogy with the same practice used for the general population. In other cases, the sources
imply that the cost reduction approach did not negatively affect inmate health, but have not provided
evidence. Most of the sources—leaders in inmate health in various prison systems--agreed on the
difficulties of evaluating impacts on inmate health for lack of good metrics for which data are practical
to collect.
Measuring health of inmates poses many difficulties. Most state and local health agencies have
standards for clinical outcomes for chronic illnesses and others, but not measures of the state of the
prisoner health overall, over time. Perhaps the most desirable measure—change in health after
admittance—is rarely measured because it requires the same comprehensive exam for all or at least a
statistically significant sample of inmates at regular intervals, and that does not routinely occur. Some
systems do a systematic health evaluation on intake, and have a very good statistical picture of the
health of inmates at that time, but not after that point.
Some of the common indicators of inmate health are as follows. While better than nothing, especially if
viewed as trends or across groups of institutions using the same definitions, they are not conclusive for
evaluations, especially for assessing impacts of cost reduction approaches.
--number of inmate sick calls. The obvious problem with this measure is that one wants to reduce the
number of unnecessary sick calls, not legitimate sick calls. The total number of sick calls may reflect
inmate complaint behavior as much as inmate health.
--number of inmate complaints about health care. Inmates in some jails such as in DC can file a
complaint as often as daily on any subject. They can complain about their health care if they feel they
are denied access or not getting adequate quality care. This is a subjective measure of the quality of
health care, but can be useful, especially when the reasons for the complaints are analyzed and some
determination made of their validity.

Page 28

--number of contacts with health provider—In some jails or prisons, any time an inmate sees a nurse or
doctor or gets medicine, a contact report is made. (Again, Washington DC jail is one example.) More
health provider contacts may mean worse health, or it may simply mean the inmates have better access
to care, or even an increase in frivolous contacts or over-documentation of trivial contacts. A more
substantive version of this measure that has not been used to our knowledge, and that might be
considered, is the following:
--number of contacts with health provider that resulted in medical action (such as provision of medicine,
medical tests, or needed health advice). This can be gleaned from a sample of the contact reports. If
health worsened, one might expect more medical actions taken. This measure has not to our
knowledge been used but has promise. However, it too presents some concerns, such as that some
medical actions may be of marginal health value, and some inmates may not report or be aware of their
health problems.
There are currently no national data sets for measuring outcomes (inmate health) in correctional health
care. 90 Comparing data across jurisdictions may also be challenging. Jail-related health care analysis is a
subject with its own complex set of problems including variations in heterogeneity of populations from
community to community, exceedingly low median lengths of stay relative to prison populations, and a
complex array of medical conditions and illnesses that present in the population.
There is promise for improving comparative data. Some new corrections data systems provide
benchmarks for comparing the quality of health services against those of other jurisdictions:

CHORDS: The NCCHC is developing the Correctional Health Outcome and Resource Data Set
(CHORDS), a uniform quality monitoring system for benchmarking and outcomes analysis.
Because CHORDS is neither resource-intensive nor dependent on technology, it provides a
short-term solution for jails interested in evaluating the quality and efficiency of their health
care system without investing resources in health information technology (HIT) or electronic
health record (HER) systems. These systems are designed to improve health care quality,
increase adherence to guidelines by health professionals, improve the delivery of care,
reduce medication errors, and improve efficiency in medication administration. HIT can help
jails with disease surveillance, or the ability to monitor the incidence, prevalence, and
outcomes of diseases in an inmate population. CHORDS do not require the exchange of
protected health information or individually identifiable health information. Measures
consider effectiveness of care, access, cost, and health plan stability. Some measures have
been adapted for populations with very short stays. 91


California: The state developed a dashboard (computer display) to track inmate health
outcomes, services, and associated expenditures on a monthly basis. Many of the metrics
(listed below) and certainly the method of presentation are applicable to a jail setting. The
dashboards are available to the public on the California Correctional Health Care Services
website. 92 The health care measures address the following:
 Medical Program Inspections
 Dental Program Audit
 Mental Health Timeframe Compliance


Bisset & Harrison, 2012.
For more information about the development of CHORDS and its current pilot testing of diabetes-related metrics
in 56 prison and 10 jail systems, see
The dashboard can be found at


Page 29



Prevention And Disease Management
Access And Continuity
Medication Management
Specialty And Hospital Services
Staffing (Full Time Equivalent)
Major Costs Per Inmate Per Month
- Labor
- Non Labor
Workload Per Day
Other Trends
Institution And Population Characteristics


Page 30

Much information in this report was provided over a period of several months in 2012 through exchange
of emails, phone calls and internal data and documents from the DC Department of Corrections, Office
of Strategic Planning and Analysis. Most of the following sources were for information on practices
outside of DC.
Abt Associates Inc.,”Reduce Correctional. Health Care Costs: An Evaluation of a. Prison Telemedicine
Network”. Prepared for the Joint Program Steering Committee, March 1999.
ACCG Insurance Programs. OCGA 42-4-15 Provides Savings for Emergency Inmate Medical Care.
December 14, 2011.
Allemeier, K. Report: Insurance saves $74K in jail medical costs. Quad City Times, April 12, 2011.
American Jail Association. Jail Population Reduction Strategies: An Examination of Five Jurisdictions’
Responses to Jail Crowding. Hagerstown, MD: American Jail Association, 1994.
Bisset, M. M. & Harrison, E. A. 2012, April. Health outcomes in corrections: Health Information
Technology and the Correctional Health Outcome and Resource Data Set (CHORDS). Issue Paper.
Brandt, S. Tackling crime with a helping hand. Minneapolis Star Tribune. March 2, 2011.
Broner, N; Mayrl, D; Landsberg, G. “Outcomes Of Mandated And Non-mandated New York City Jail
Diversion For Offenders With Alcohol, Drug, And Mental Disorders”, THE PRISON JOURNAL, Vol. 85
No. 1, March 2005 18-49, DOI: 10.1177/0032885504274289© 2005 Sage Publications
Bureau of Justice Assistance. A Second Look at Alleviating Jail Crowding: A Systems Perspective.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, October 2000.
Burns, M. District of Columbia Department of Corrections Inmate Pharmacy Operations: Challenges and
Opportunities for Cost-Containment and Quality Improvement. Report for the DC Department of
Corrections, August 23, 2010.
Chaussee, Jennifer “Trade secrets: inmate health-care contracts kept confidential”, Capitol Weekly, Dec.
12, 2010.
Community Resources for Justice,
Corporation for Supportive Housing. Frequent Users Service Enhancement Initiative [FUSE]. New York:
Corporation for Supportive Housing, 2009.
Ekstrand, L E. District of Columbia Receivership: Selected Issues Related to Medical Services in the D.C.
Jail, June 30, 2000.
Fontaine, J. et al, Supportive Housing for the Disabled Reentry Population: The District of Columbia
Frequent Users Service Enhancement [FUSE] Pilot Program, Urban Institute, December 2011.
GAO testimony, “Federal Prisons: Containing Health Care Costs for an Increasing Inmate Population”
April 6, 2000. (
Hall, A. System-wide Strategies to Alleviate Jail Crowding. Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice,

Page 31

Hill, C. Survey Summary: Inmate Health Care and Communicable Diseases. Corrections Compendium,
35(4). NCJ 235557, 2010.
Keller, J. Take a Bite out of Jail Rx Costs: 6 Simple Strategies, CorrectCare, Publication of the National
Commission on Public Health Care, Volume 17, Issue 4, fall 2003.
Kelso, J. Clark. Goals of Prison Receiver: Adequate Health Care, Cost-Cutting and Transparency.
Kinsella, Chad. Corrections Health Care Costs, prepared by Trends Alert for Council of State
Governments, January, 2004.
Klein, M. Community Oriented Correctional Medicine. Presentation to DC DOC, November 6, 6.
Krauth, B. & Stayton, K, Fees paid by Jail Inmates, Report to US Department of Justice, National Institute
of Corrections. 2005.
Larimer, M. E., Malone, D. K., Garner, M. D., Atkins, D. C., Burlington, B., Lonczak, H. S., et al. Health Care
and Public Service Use and Costs Before and After Provision of Housing for Chronically Homeless
Persons With Severe Alcohol Problems. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 301(13),
1349-1357, 2009.
Facilitators and Barriers to HIV Testing Institute of Medicine Committee on HIV Screening and Access
to Care. April 15, 2010.
Lize, S., Moncrief, M., & West, S. Steps to control prison inmate health care costs have begun to show
savings. Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability, Florida, 2009.
Marzban, N. Community-Oriented Correctional Health Care in the D.C. Department of Corrections.
Presentation to DC DOC. May, 2012.
McDonald et al. Telemedicine Can Reduce Correctional Health Care Costs: An Evaluation of a Prison
Telemedicine Network. Abt Associates, Report to NIJ. 1999.
McGillen, Lt. S. The financial impact of Inmate Healthcare: Maintaining a cost effective and efficient
system. (undated; circa 2009)
National Commission on Correctional Health Care [NCCHS]. Position Statements: Charging Inmates a Fee
for Health Care Services, 1996, reauthorized in 2005.
Riemers, T. Health Services Administration and Program Director, State of Florida Department of
Corrections; Interview, August 28, 2012.
Noonan, M. Mortality in Local Jails, 2000–2007. Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2010.
Schroth, S.M. Tracking Continuity of Health Care for Released Inmates in the District of Columbia.
Internal Memo to DC DOC, December 8, 2009.
Taylor, M. Providing Constitutional and Cost-Effective Inmate Medical Care. Legislative Analyst’s Office,
State of California Legislature. April 19, 2012.

Page 32

U.S. Department of Justice, Inspector General’s Office, Audit Division: The Federal Bureau of Prisons
Efforts to Manage Inmate Health Care, Audit Report 08-08, February 2008.
VanNostrand, M., Rose, K. J., & Weibrecht, K. In Pursuit of Legal and Evidence-based Pretrial Release
Recommendations and Supervision. St. Petersburg, FL: Luminosity, Inc., circa 2007.
White, W. F. Court Hearing Call Notification Project. Flagstaff, AZ: Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
& Flagstaff Justice Court, 2006., State to Save Money on Prisoner Health Care, February 10, 2009


Page 33

California’s Health Performance Metrics Dashboard
• Overall Score: The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) uses a series of “yes” or “no” questions to
determine adherence in 20 components of medical delivery (e.g., Chronic Care). Each inspection
question is weighted and scored by calculating the percentage of “yes” answers for each question
from all items sampled. That percentage is then multiplied by the question’s weight to arrive at a
weighted score. The total score is calculated by summing the number of weighted subject points
earned and dividing that value by the overall number of weighted points possible. Reported
percentages reflect the most recent OIG inspection results. See OIG website for details:‐inspections.php.
• Clinical Process: Percentage adherence to standards in the Clinical Process category of the Perez
Court Expert Dental Audit Tool.
• Quality of Care: Percentage adherence to standards in the Quality of Care category of the Perez
Court Expert Dental Audit Tool.
• Patient Safety: Percentage adherence to standards in the Patient Safety category of the Perez Court
Expert Dental Audit Tool.
• Contact Intervals: Percentage adherence to the Mental Health Services Delivery System’s (MHSDS)
inmate‐patient contact timeframes. Compliance is measured weekly through MHSDS and include
routine Interdisciplinary Treatment Team (IDTT), psychiatrist, and primary clinician (PC) contacts.
Aggregated percentage adherence represents adherence to contact type timeframes for each care
program and housing placement [limited to Correctional Clinical Case Management System
(CCCMS), Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP), housed in Mainline (ML) or the Reception Center
• Mental Health Referrals: Percentage adherence to timeframe requirements for entry into MHSDS, as
defined by the MHSDS Program Guide.
• Level of Care Change Requests: Percentage adherence to timeframe requirements related to
requests for Level of Care Changes for the following MHSDS areas: Correctional Clinical Case
Management System (CCCMS), Enhanced Outpatient Program (EOP), and Mental Health Crisis Beds
(MHCB) as defined by the MHSDS Program Guide.
• Diabetes Care: Average of the following measures for inmate‐patients 18 through 75 years of age
with diabetes who were continuously incarcerated during the preceding 12 months: Most recent
hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c)<8% (under control); Most recent low‐density lipoprotein‐cholesterol
(LDL‐C)<100 mg/dL (under control); and Most recent blood pressure <140/90 (under control)
• Asthma Care: Percentage of inmate‐patients 18 through 50 years of age who had persistent asthma
who were prescribed an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS) within the preceding 12 months among all
inmate‐patients prescribed four or more ICS or short‐acting beta agonist (SABA) medications during
the same 12‐month period.
• Therapeutic Anticoagulation: Percentage of inmate‐patients who were prescribed
warfarin/Coumadin for anticoagulation therapy and achieved a therapeutic international
normalizing ratio (INR) between 2 and 3.5 in the preceding 30 days. To be eligible, inmate‐patients
must have been receiving anticoagulation therapy for at least the preceding four months.
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Potentially Avoidable Hospitalizations per 1,000 Inmates per Year: Rate of potentially avoidable
hospitalizations per 1,000 inmates per year based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and
Quality (AHRQ) criteria for the following conditions: cellulitis, pneumonia, diabetes and related
complications, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), altered level of
consciousness or seizure disorders, urinary tract infections, dehydration, angina, and congestive
heart failure. Figures also include readmissions within 30 days of discharge, end stage liver disease
complications, self‐injury, and medication‐related events. Reported rates reflect an annualized rate
of the most recent three‐month period.
Colon Cancer Screening: Percentage of inmate‐patients 50 through75 years of age*, continuously
incarcerated during the preceding 12 months who were offered colon cancer screening through one
of the following methods: an appropriate fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or fecal occult blood
(guaiac) test (FOBT) within the preceding 12 months; a sigmoidoscopy within the last 5 years; and a
colonoscopy within the last 10 years.
Breast Cancer Screening: Percentage of female inmate‐patients 50 through74years of age*,
continuously incarcerated during the preceding 12 months who received a mammogram within the
preceding two years or were offered a mammogram during the preceding 12 months.
Mammography data are available June 2009 and later. Please note that an inmate‐patient was
counted towards compliance if screening was offered during the preceding 12 months but the
inmate‐patient declined.
Flu vaccination: Percentage of inmate‐patients who were offered influenza vaccination. Please note
that an inmate‐patient was counted towards compliance if screening was offered but the
inmate‐patient declined. This measure is assessed annually.

• RN Episodic Care: Percentage of inmate‐patients who submitted a medical Health Care Service
Request form indicating symptoms and who were seen face‐to‐face by a nurse by the next business
• PCP Episodic Care: Percentage of inmate‐patients who received a routine appointment with a
primary care provider within 14 calendar days of a nurse referral.
• PCP Chronic Care: Percentage of inmate‐patients enrolled in the chronic care program who received
a follow‐up evaluation by a primary care provider as ordered at the patient’s last chronic care visit,
but not to exceed 180 calendar days after that visit.
• Specialty Consultation: Average percentage of inmate‐patients evaluated by a specialist within 14
calendar days of approval of a high priority referral and inmate‐patients evaluated by a specialist
within 90 calendar days of approval of a routine referral.
• PCP Specialty Follow‐up: Average percentage of inmate‐patients who were seen by a primary care
provider within 3 business days after returning from a high priority specialty appointment and
inmate‐patients who were seen by a primary care provider within 14 calendar days after returning
from a routine specialty appointment .
• PCP Hospital Follow‐up: Percentage of inmate‐patients returning from a higher level of community
care (a community hospital or emergency department) who received a follow‐up evaluation by their
primary care provider within 5 calendar days after return to the institution.
• Provider: Percentage of chronic care inmate‐patients residing at their current institution during the
preceding six months who had fewer than three primary care providers prescribing essential
medications over that same six‐month period.
• Mental Health Clinician: Percentage of mental health clinician encounters occurring with a single

Page 35


mental health clinician for inmate‐patients residing at their current institution during the preceding
six months who have been enrolled in the Enhanced Outpatient Program for at least six months.
Psychiatrist: Percentage of psychiatrist encounters occurring with a single psychiatrist for
inmate‐patients residing at their current institution during the preceding six months who have been
enrolled in the Enhanced Outpatient Program for at least six months.

• Access to Medications: Average percentage of chronic care inmate‐patients who received all
prescribed chronic care medications during the preceding 90 days; inmate‐patients returning from a
higher level of care (community hospital or emergency department) who received all prescribed
medications by the next business day; and newly arriving or intra‐system transfer inmate‐patients
who received all medications previously prescribed within policy timeframes (1 calendar day for
newly arriving and next business day for Intra‐system transfer).
• Prescriptions per Inmate: Average number of prescriptions dispensed per inmate per month.
• Medical Provider Non‐Formulary Prescribing: Percentage of all non‐mental health prescriptions filled
for medications not on the formulary.
• Psychiatrist Non‐Formulary Prescribing: Percentage of all psychiatrist‐generated prescriptions filled
for medications not on the formulary.
• KOP medications from Central Fill Pharmacy: Percentage of keep on person (KOP) medications that
were dispensed from the Central Fill Pharmacy rather than from the institution’s pharmacy.
• Specialty Care Referrals: Average number of referrals for specialist consultations submitted and
approved per 1,000 inmates per month.
• Specialty Appointments via Telemedicine: Percentage of non‐psychiatric specialist visits appropriate
for telemedicine (i.e., non‐procedural evaluation, management, or consultation) delivered via
telemedicine services.
• Hospital Admissions: Average number of community hospital admissions per 1,000 inmates per
• Emergency Department Visits: Average number of community emergency department visits per
1,000 inmates per month.
• Administrative Hospital Bed Days: Average number of potentially avoidable days spent occupying a
community hospital bed (e.g., due to unavailability of Correctional Treatment Center beds) per
1,000 inmates per year.
• Full Time Equivalent (FTE): Measures one full calendar year of state employee paid employment, or
the equivalent of 2,088 hours (the number of average available work hours in a year). A staff month
is equivalent to 174 hours (the average available work hours in a month) (statewide figures on
monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
• Actual FTE: Number of current Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staff being utilized through Permanent
Employee Filled Positions, Overtime and Registry (statewide figures on monthly composite and
institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
• Authorized FTE: Number of ongoing positions approved in the budget of the preceding year
(excluding positions abolished due to continued, extended vacancy) (statewide figures on monthly
composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs). Details about authorized
positions by classification can be found in the Salaries and Wages Supplement for state
• Percent of Authorized: Percentage of number of actual FTE positions to number of authorized FTE

Page 36




positions (statewide figures on monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters
staff FTEs).
Medical Staff: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized FTE
positions for medical staff, including non‐psychiatric MD, DO, NP and PA hours (statewide figures on
monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Nursing Staff: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized FTE
positions for nursing staff, including RN, LVN, CNA and psychiatry technician hours (statewide
figures on monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Pharmacy Staff: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized FTE
positions for pharmacy staff, including pharmacist and pharmacy technician hours (statewide figures
on monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Dental Clinical Staff: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized FTE
positions for dental clinical staff, including dentist and hygienist hours (statewide figures on monthly
composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Mental Health Clinician: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized
FTE positions for mental health clinician staff, including psychiatrist, psychologist, and licensed
clinical social worker hours (statewide figures on monthly composite and institution scorecards
exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Clinical Support: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized FTE
positions for clinical support staff, including physical therapist, laboratory, radiology and other
licensed clinical staff hours not accounted for in other clinical categories (statewide figures on
monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Administrative Support: Number of actual and authorized FTE positions and percent of authorized
for administrative support staff (statewide figures on monthly composite and institution scorecards
exclude headquarters staff FTEs).
Total Actual FTE: Total number of actual FTE use for the following staff classification categories:
Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Clinical, Mental Health Clinician, Clinical Support, Administrative
Permanent Employees FTE: Total number of permanent employee FTE use for the following staff
classification categories: Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Clinical, Mental Health Clinician,
Clinical Support, Administrative Support.
Overtime FTE: Total number of overtime FTE use for the following staff classification categories:
Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Clinical, Mental Health Clinician, Clinical Support, Administrative
Registry FTE: Total number of registry/contract employee FTE use for the following staff
classification categories: Medical, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dental Clinical, Mental Health Clinician,
Clinical Support, Administrative Support.

• Medical Staff: The per-inmate per- month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits, temporary
help, registry, and overtime for medical staff (statewide figures on monthly composite and
institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).
• Nursing Staff: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits, temporary
help, registry, and overtime for nursing staff (statewide figures on monthly composite and
institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).
• Pharmacy Staff: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits, temporary
help, registry, and overtime for pharmacy staff (statewide figures on monthly composite and
institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).

Page 37


Dental Clinical Staff: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits,
temporary help, registry, and overtime for dental clinical staff (statewide figures on monthly
composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).
Mental Health Clinical Staff: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits,
temporary help, registry, and overtime for mental health clinical staff (statewide figures on monthly
composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).
Clinical Support: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits, temporary
help, registry, and overtime for clinical support staff (statewide figures on monthly composite and
institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).
Administrative Support: The per inmate per month cost of salaries/wages, retirement, benefits,
temporary help, registry, and overtime for administrative support staff (statewide figures on
monthly composite and institution scorecards exclude headquarters staff costs).

• Hospital: Dollar cost of inpatient treatment services per inmate per month.
• Emergency Department: Dollar cost of emergency department visits per inmate per month.
• Specialty: Dollar cost of all non‐psychiatric specialty services per inmate per month.
• Medications: Dollar cost of all prescriptions per inmate per month.
• Diagnostics: Dollar cost of all diagnostic services per inmate per month.
• Patient Encounters per PCP: Average number of inmate‐patients seen per Primary Care Provider
(PCP) per normalized eight hour day.
• Patient Encounters per Primary Mental Health Clinician: Average number of inmate‐patients seen
per primary mental health clinician (psychologist or social worker) per normalized eight hour day.
• Patient Encounters per Psychiatrist: Average number of inmate‐patients seen per Psychiatrist per
normalized eight hour day.
• Prescriptions per Pharmacist: Average number of prescriptions filled per Pharmacist per normalized
eight hour day.
• Appropriately Housed Clinically Complex Patients: Percentage of Clinically Complex inmate‐patients
appropriately housed at institutions with Intermediate health missions. The monthly composite and
institution scorecards data shows the total number of Clinically Complex inmate‐patients.
• Mental Health High Utilizers: Number of inmate‐patients with two or more mental health‐related
placements/admissions to Suicide Watch, Outpatient Housing Unit, Mental Health Crisis Bed, or
Intermediate Care Facility per 1,000 inmates per month.
• Appeals Received: Average number of appeals received (formal and informal) per 1,000 inmates per
• Health Care Appointments Missed Due to Custody: Percentage of all scheduled health care
appointments missed due to custody factors per month.
• Prison Population Capacity: Percentage of actual inmate‐patient population over the designated
population capacity at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation prisons.
• Cell Bed Changes: Percentage of inmates‐patient continuously incarcerated during the preceding six
months who moved cell beds 1 or more times during that same period.
• Average Document Scan Time (In Days): The average number of days between a document’s
encounter date and its scan date.

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High Risk Priority 1 & 2: Patients who trigger at least one of the High Risk selection criteria. Please
note that this category is further sub‐divided into Priority 1 and 2 groups. High Risk Priority 1
includes patients who trigger 2 or more of the High Risk selection criteria, while High Risk Priority 2
includes patients triggering 1 criterion only.
• High Risk Selection Criteria:
o Sensitive Medical condition
o High hospital, ED, Specialty Care and Pharmacy costs
o Multiple hospitalizations*
o Multiple Emergency Department visits*
o High Risk Specialty consultations
o Significant abnormal labs
o Age
o Specific High‐Risk diagnosis/procedures
A patient with a point for 2 or more inpatient hospital admissions cannot receive a
second point for 3 or more Ed visits (and vice versa)
Medium Risk: Patients who do not fall into the High Risk category that have at least 1 chronic
condition, excluding patients whose only chronic condition is well‐controlled Asthma or Diabetes.
Low Risk: Patients with no chronic conditions other than well‐controlled Asthma or Diabetes who do
not meet any of the criteria for High or Medium risk.


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