Prison Health Care Reform Bill Dismissed by State Legislators

DOVER, Del. — A senate finance committee rejected a bill proposed by state Sen. Margaret Rose Henry that would have required a $30 million overhaul of Delaware’s prison health care system.

The Joint Finance Committee announced in May that the budget for the Department of Corrections would not include money to make improvements to the state’s prison medical system, the subject of much scrutiny since the release of investigative reports by The News Journal newspaper.

Officials from the Senate Judiciary Committee say the bill will not be considered this year on account of the fiscal impact report from the Controller General’s Office.

The bill would have initiated mandatory HIV/AIDS testing for incoming inmates, screening for hepatitis and tuberculosis, and medical training for correctional officers.

The judiciary panel did allow some extra money for prison health care to pay the state’s prison health care provider, Correction Medical Services, more money for existing services and for more positions to be opened.

The panel also agreed to add $2.9 million to CMS’s contract to allow for inflation. The health care provider’s contract was renewed in July 2005 on an emergency basis without bidding, according to officials.

The corrections department will receive $238,000 to fund a health care oversight committee that would include prison care reviewers and members of the Division of Public Health.

The U.S. Department of Justice launched a series of investigations into the state’s prison health care system to address reports of neglected medical conditions, which led to inmate suicides, and a case in which a female inmate gave birth to twins in a toilet stall in Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in March.

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