Competition Would Improve North Carolina’s Correctional Healthcare Delivery

Letter to the Editor Submitted to The News & Observer

Dana Cope (“Unwise outsourcing of prison health care,” op-ed, Apr. 25) missed the mark when she claimed partnering with the private sector to deliver correctional healthcare “won’t save money.” For example, the Florida Department of Corrections recently selected private firms to provide correctional healthcare in all state prisons, and department officials estimate the moves will lower costs for taxpayers by over $45 million (11 percent) annually. And last month, California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office recommended the state establish a pilot project to contract for correctional healthcare as a way to rein in long-term costs.

Ms. Cope is rightly concerned about the quality of care provided for inmates. State legislators can and should write rigorous contracts for private correctional healthcare providers, using rewards and penalties to optimize performance. That’s a level of care and accountability you don’t see with government provided care.

Privatization is already being used in several Greensboro-area local correctional facilities, and in over a dozen states across the country from Florida to Wyoming. Policymakers have a duty to be careful stewards of scarce taxpayer dollars, so why take a proven policy reform off the table in North Carolina’s state facilities?

Harris Kenny
Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation