HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Prison health care costs are soaring in Kansas as once-experimental drugs and procedures are becoming standard treatments.
The Kansas Department of Corrections spent $46.5 million in the most recent fiscal year on inmate health care, up 116 percent from 2000, the Hutchinson News reported in its Sunday editions.
"The primary factor is what everybody is experiencing — health care costs are just going up," Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz said.
Health care now totals 17 percent of the department's total operating costs as inmates with conditions once considered terminal and in need of treatment that was once experimental — such as HIV infection and hepatitis C — are living longer.
"People are being managed with those illnesses for very extended periods of time," Werholtz said. "And we are obligated to extend that care when medically indicated."
Even a shrinking prison population — down about 7 percent since 2004 — hasn't been able to stem the increasing costs. The cost per prisoner has jumped from $2,772 a year in 2001 to an estimated $5,407 in 2009-10.