Report examines state prison healthcare spending

November 03, 2014

The trend of rising healthcare costs for prisoners appears to have reversed in many states, according to a report by the State Health Care Spending Project, a collaboration between The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Total correctional healthcare expenditures and per-inmate spending increased in nearly all states from fiscal years 2007 to 2011, but in most states it began declining after peaking in 2009 and 2010. Nationwide, prison healthcare spending totaled $7.7 billion in 2011, down from a high of $8.2 billion in 2009, after adjusting for inflation. The downturn in spending stemmed in part from a reduction in state prison populations. As state policymakers feel the strain of correctional healthcare costs on their budgets and look ahead to their aging prison population, corrections officials are pursuing ways to rein in expenses without sacrificing the quality of care, such as:

  • Telehealth,
  • Outsourcing care,
  • Medicaid financing and
  • Medical or geriatric parole