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Politics & Government

Michigan eyes full privatization of prison health care

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Michigan may privatize all of its prison medical services in an effort to cut costs.

The state spent more than $300 million  last year to provide health and mental health care to its 43,000 prisoners.

Department of Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan says that care costs about $200 per month, per prisoner.

He says a contractor may be able to provide the service for less.

"State employees have 65 to 70 percent of their hourly pay --  is in their benefits, and those benefits would be health insurance, paid leave time, and these types of things, retirement benefits," Marlan says. "And a private provider may not structure every employee the same.

Marlan says many doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who treat inmates already work for contractors; but many nurses and other support staff are still state employees.

Bids have to be received by the end of next month.