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How do we pay for prison health care short-term or long-term?

Updated on July 7, 2016

What will happen should the prisoner no longer be safe while incarcerated?

Briefly during the national debate was there a discussion regarding inmate's rights to health care. There are several questions that have not been answered. Who makes a decision regarding the health care to be received by inmates? Who pays for this health care? And what will happen should the prisoner no longer be safe while incarcerated?

What have we worked for?
What have we worked for? | Source

We have come a long way baby! Or have we?

Images of our parents or grandparents seem to feature a time of simple issues. Did we forget to upload this feature as the picture of our life changes?

Our legal system does provide for many of our Legal Rights, however perhaps not what may be expected. One little secret not made perfectly clear is health care. What is health care for those in prison or just released after several years of incarceration? How is this information made available to us?

Briefly during the national debate was there a discussion regarding inmate's rights to health care. There are several questions that have not been answered. Who makes a decision regarding the health care to be received by inmates? Who pays for this health care? And what will happen should the prisoner no longer be safe while incarcerated?

Let's take the time to stop and analyze this topic. And at the very beginning, it is assumed the tax paying public is paying for the health care of those incarcerated. Taxpayer funding guides all of us (institution and individual alike) to one direction or another. And most especially when the conversation is surrounding incarceration. Also, it is important to realize as the population of this country discusses Mental Health and the payment for it. Remember a large number of prisoners exhibiting or diagnosed with mental health disorders.

The day-to-day life of prisoners has been addressed over and over. Funding of health care for our incarcerated is kept out of view for our citizens (taxpayers). And it is important to realize the primarily cost of care falls on you and I. If a prisoner is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or has a debilitating injury how do those administering the funds for the population handle this situation? This is not said to suggest health care should not be given to the incarcerated. It is a question that needs to be asking of all our lawmakers. Now is the time to look closely at the federal, state and local lawmakers. Where is the line drawn when paying for prisoner health costs? And what knowledge is made public?

Upon asking this and understanding the situation at hand, take a look at friends or our own families. When we see a commercial for Cancer Care, heart attack or Alzheimer's disease, most of us are thinking about the cost to that cost being financial or emotional. Now remove those friends and family and look at the prisoner population. The health care for prisoners is paid for by public funds diverted to the prison system.

This information is not new. The unexpected may be in the population seeking medical care. First – our population in the U. S. is graying and fast becoming the largest group of seniors ever. This along with the largest population of those incarcerated ever is destined for disaster. Currently, those seniors are looking at social security (the program sold to their parents as the end all, do all) for retirement and medical benefits. The populations residing in our prisons are receiving medical care and help to access this care.

This information brings us to our correctional system. Never setup to be the social network of this century. Now has created growing center point of the culture.

The people making their way to being a long-time prisoner, as well as being ill or injured is astounding. Once convicted of crimes and incarcerated this population has now come to reside on the taxpayer's buck. They will receive medical care at no cost, they will receive mental health services at no cost and there is an open check for this treatment. While we work very hard just to pay our bills and mental health treatment is either nonexistent or capped by our medical insurance. Knowledge is abundant where statistics show once incarcerated the risk of reoffending is increasing multifold

Our medical care has grown and is thought to be one of the best in the world. This leads us to the 37-year-old offender who has just received the sentence of 45 years to life. Factoring in time off for good behavior we see a person at the age of 75 years of age. Chances are good the prisoner will require long-term care prior to release from prison. This brings to our attention how do taxpaying citizens provide long-term care for this person (times 50% of the general prison population)?

Prisons are not modeled for medical care other than first aid type treatment. A person with dementia is not able to survive in a general population environment. Under currently medical demands the penal system cannot continue to house this person. This forces the penal system makes a determination to ask for a court-appointed guardian, advocate to manage (make sure the public institutions are aware of the safeguards are in place) the life, medical care and advocate for the person to the best of their ability. Finding a care facility is almost impossible, finding care providers is even closer to impossible and then working with the public to understand the prisoner is no longer a threat to themselves or others. The prisoner is not technically discharged from incarceration rather furloughed. The prisoner cannot be taken to medical care without the advance knowledge of the probations department. And at times this will also call for a uniformed officer to also have complete control of the situation and the prisoner. Mental health situations are even worse and require more oversight.

Yes, we do need to provide for our prisoners (remember all those who were found guilty and later released due to an error). How do we meet the needs of a person with Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease and so many other diagnoses? Perhaps this is the best place to begin revamping the penal system. Now may be the time to provide for patient advocates within this fractured house. The above setting is only sooner to come about when the prisoner is experiencing mental health problems.

What are your thoughts? How do we provide for those we relegate to institutions due to a crime rather than an illness?

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