Could budget cuts to prison's medical services lead to lawsuit? - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Could budget cuts to prison's medical services lead to lawsuit?

Posted: Aug 09, 2018 4:50 PM Updated:

One major budget item hoping to be passed through is funding for the clinical services at the Department of Corrections. Prison leaders say it's very important they get the full amount needed for the prison population. At issue is funding for the prison's medical services.

History was made in April of 2017 when District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco Gatewood terminated the decades old consent decree for the Department of Corrections.

But, as budget talks linger, prison officials express concern that possible cuts to their budget request could lead them down a path towards multiple lawsuits. The prison needs about $26 million dollars for the upcoming fiscal year. Of that, $3 million is for the clinic. That's one price tag prison officials are keeping a close watch - hoping that the money for those services are given in full.

DepCor has said that cutting the money would mean cutting the services, services that were part of the mandate for the prison to fulfill in order to lift the consent decree.

Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett Anderson said, "If the department of corrections were forced to close down the medical clinic that would be catastrophic. I see it as a travesty for all the work that was put in by the entire DOC team to comply with Judge Munson's order."

An order she says they worked tirelessly to meet. She cautions senators during their budget battle, saying, "If we don't fund that then I will do so far to say that I guarantee there will be another lawsuit either filed by an inmate, a detainee, because we are not providing the healthcare services that are needed and that are required under national standards or the federal government might walk right back in and take us into federal court and we will be right back to square one again."

A position of possibly being under yet another federal receivership. "If you don't' provide it then a federal court will force you to provide it," she said.

The prison is already struggling to keep up with payments to the hospital whenever they bring inmates or detainees up there for care. At last check they currently owe GMH more than a million and counting.

As for funding for the rest - that's now left up for lawmakers to decide.

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