VPR Header
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
VPR News
Explore our coverage of government and politics.

Vermont's Prison Health Care System To Get Financial Review

The Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield.
Peter Hirschfeld
/
VPR File
The Department of Corrections operates six facilities, and each has its own clinical and health administration department. A new JFO study will see if the state can save money by making changes to the system.

The Joint Fiscal Office will do a complete evaluation of the state’s prison health care system.A report last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Vermont had the second-highest per-inmate prison health care costs in the country. Vermont spent $13,747 per inmate in 2015, according to the report; the median amount spent among the 49 states that provided data was $5,720 per inmate.

Department of Corrections Commissioner Lisa Menard said the report caught the eyes of lawmakers who asked for the analysis.

“We certainly want to provide the best possible care to the people in our custody,” Menard said. “But we also want to do it with the best possible value for taxpayers.”

"We certainly want to provide the best possible care to the people in our custody but we also want to do it with the best possible value for taxpayers." — Lisa Menard, Department of Corrections Commissioner

The Joint Fiscal Office sent a request for proposal for a consulting company to "evaluate the policies, contracts, and processes the Department of Corrections (DOC) uses to deliver health care services to assess whether current costs are excessive.”

Ben Watts, the Department of Corrections health services director, said Vermont has six prison facilities — each with its own administration and clinical departments. One of the aims of the study will be to see if Vermont can save money by changing how it delivers health care to its inmates.

“Other states that actually have slightly larger inmate populations have a single correctional facility with multiple buildings on a single campus,” Watts said. “So presumably if Vermont were to take ... a similar approach, you know, it’s kind of our theory that it would save quite a bit of money by developing that economy of scale.”

The study will look at health care models from at least eight states, including each of the New England states.

The study will look at health care models from at least eight states, including each of the New England states.

Vermont is one of only six states that has a unified corrections system, which means the state manages all of the prisons and jails under a unified system.

The JFO report will also look at the systems in Alaska, Delaware, and Hawaii — the other states outside of New England with unified systems.

Vermont’s procurement process will also get a review to see if the state’s contract management system was delivering the most cost-efficient health care services.

The final financial study is due by Jan. 15.

 

Related Content