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Prison Health Privatization Opponents Threaten Suit

Another lawsuit over prison health care looms between the state Department of Corrections and the union representing state workers.

Wednesday, the Legislative Budget Commission will take up a state move to outsource health care and pharmaceuticals to private vendors.

The panel will consider a DOC request to transfer $58 million within its budget so that Wexford Health Sources can provide care at South Florida prisons and Corizon in the rest of the state.

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees is warning that the Republican-dominated budget panel would be overstepping its bounds. Union attorney Tom Brooks cited state law Tuesday.

Brooks said, "By specifically mentioning non-profit corporations but leaving out for-profit corporations like Wexford and Corizon, that statute doesn't even cover the kind of contracting-out they're trying to do here."

DOC spokeswoman Ann Howard disagreed, saying the law would cover private companies.

The contracts are slated to begin January 1st.

Brooks said the union will file a new lawsuit challenging the privatization if the budget panel approves it Wednesday.