Florida Department of Corrections staff briefed a House panel on the structure and status of prison health care Wednesday before detailing some of their 2019-20 budget requests.
DOC in recent years has faced budget shortfalls, causing them to make dramatic cuts to inmate health care services. The $55 million shortfall last budget year caused officials to slash substance-abuse, mental-health and re-entry programs by more than $10 million to make ends meet.
The department had another $28 million shortfall in the current fiscal year but didn’t provide detailed projections for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Centurion, which snagged a $1.5 billion contract with DOC last year, is the sole provider of prison health care in Florida. Despite the contract including a 11 percent administration fee, guaranteeing the company a profit, costs have ballooned from $329 million in 2017-18 to $375 million this year — nearly a sixth of the department’s overall budget of $2.4 billion.
DOC health services director, Tom Reimers, told the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee that part of the cost spike can be pinned on the large population of inmates needing mental health care as well as an aging population — what he refers to as the “boomer effect.”