The Florida Department of Corrections on Wednesday requested over $19 million to treat inmates who have the Hepatitis C virus, even as the state prisons agency is embroiled in a class-action lawsuit over that treatment.
The request was made before the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee, as part of each state agency’s annual legislative budget request. Treatment for Hep C costs anywhere from $25,000-$50,000 per inmate, according to the department.
Kim Banks, the agency’s chief financial officer, told lawmakers that DOC estimates around 500 inmates have the virus.
Following the presentation to lawmakers detailing the state agency’s operating budget, which hovers around $2.4 billion each year, Rep. Patricia Williams, a Lauderdale Lakes Democrat, asked for an explanation of the need for Hep C treatment.
“What happens if we’re not funding this portion (Hep C treatment) of the budget,” Williams asked. “What’s the ramification?”
With an ongoing case looming over FDC, Banks was limited as to what she could say. She told Williams that FDC does not currently have funding for Hep C treatment, but could not speak to potential consequences.