Improving the Health of Maryland Offenders
Baltimore Sun - Online
Thanks to The Sun for covering inmate health care as a public health issue ("Maryland seeks a healthier prison population," June 9). The article shows how proactive medical surveillance, inmate education and early care for chronic conditions creates a healthier population and can lead to cost efficiencies and savings.
While we cannot claim overall reduction in prison health-care costs, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services realized savings of $2.6 million from 2009 to 2010 — a 7.4 percent reduction in secondary-care medical costs that is helping us hold total health-care spending for offenders nearly level.
Keeping offenders out of the hospital also keeps custody staff out of hospitals. This has, in part, contributed to a 34 percent drop in overtime expenses for correctional officers over the last three fiscal years, a savings of nearly $12 million.
Thanks to a new Web-based medical care dashboard, we have also improved the tracking, auditing and delivery of medical exams for chronic-care inmates.
Finally, we are in the early stages of an initiative to collaborate with the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to better manage the connection of inmates to health services after they are released. Those services will include helping inmates apply for Medicaid and other public health funds related to HIV care.
Gary D. Maynard,Towson
The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.