August 4, 2015

Advanced Correctional HealthCare’s Brutal Brand of Jailhouse Medicine. This is part one of Gaming the System, Brian Sonenstein’s three-part series on the privatization of correctional healthcare, and the consequences for prisoners when cutting costs is more important than patient health. . . Advanced Correctional Healthcare was founded in 2002 by Dr. Norman Johnson. Based in Peoria, Illinois, ACH is a rising star within a multi-billion dollar-per-year, taxpayer-funded industry, contracting with local jails to provide inmate medical services. In 2012, ACH made $37.6 million. . . Central to ACH’s business model is the belief that what might be considered proper healthcare on the ‘outside’ should in some instances be deemed inappropriate on the ‘inside.’ Documents produced by the company for the Itasca County Sheriff’s office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, made clear “it is not the responsibility of the jail to supply care for general comfort illnesses such as mild acne, dandruff or dry skin.” “As a result,” ACH writes, “the key to any utilization program comes down to the decision to treat or not to treat a given complaint.” ShadowProof

The Pope, Civic Studies and Public Work. . . Pope Francis’ treatments of public work are full of insights. “A countless array of organizations…work to promote the common good and to defend the environment,” he writes. “Some show concern for a public place (a building, a fountain, an abandoned monument, a landscape, a square), and strive to protect, restore, improve, or beautify it as something belonging to everyone.” Such public work in his view reverses privatizing dynamics. “A community [engaged in such work] can break out of the indifference induced by consumerism. These actions cultivate a shared identity, with a story which can be remembered and handed on.” They also create a stake in those things tended to. Huffington Post

Commentary: Privatizing Medicare would create more problems than it solves. Republicans have long dreamed of finding a way to either privatize or get rid of Medicare, a program that has provided access to health care for well over 100 million Americans since it was created in 1965. As presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush made clear a few days ago, that dream is still alive.…While a voucher program sounds appealing to those who believe a privatized system would be cheaper and more efficient than the current government-run Medicare, it almost certainly would eventually be more costly to taxpayers or return us to the days when many people 65 and older were out of luck. Center for Public Integrity

IL: Groups want hearing on Illiana tax breaks. A coalition of environmental groups and opponents of a proposed new toll road in Will County have requested a public hearing on a set of tax breaks being sought for the project. The Environmental Law & Policy Center helped lead a successful federal lawsuit seeking to block the $1.5 billion Illiana Expressway. It filed the request Wednesday after the Lee Enterprises Springfield bureau reported that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration is seeking sales tax exemptions for building materials used in the on-again, off-again project. The tax breaks now pending before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules came as a surprise to opponents because Rauner suspended work on the 47-mile road earlier this year as part of a review of state spending.

FL: $600 million toll-road contract tied up by protest. The company hired by the state to create a $600 million program collecting money on every toll road in Florida had a dismal start running SunRail’s fare box, plus problems rolling out similar systems in two other states. Xerox State and Local Solutions last year was picked to track all the money paid by drivers on the more than 475 miles of Florida’s Turnpike, as well as the 109 miles operated by the Central Florida Expressway Authority. But protests from two losing bidders have stopped Xerox from starting. They contend the state unfairly awarded the contract, which could cover 14 years or more. Orlando Sentinel

TX: Texas voters will decide this fall on two transportation questions. If approved by voters this fall, Proposition 7 would authorize sales tax revenue to be used to aid non-toll road projects and to make payments on debt that the highway department has accumulated in recent years. Land Line Magazine

MI: Detroit school board alleges state discrimination, retaliation. The Detroit Public Schools’ elected board has filed a federal civil rights complaint against Governor Rick Snyder. . . . They include misspending public funds, violating the rights of special education students, and a general “pattern of discrimination, retaliation, [and] creating a hostile educational environment,” according to the complaint. . . The complaint also accuses Gov. Snyder of using the state’s emergency manager law to strip voting rights and power from local elected officials in some of the state’s majority-black school districts, creating “two separate and unequal school systems” across the state. It alleges a larger effort to “dismantle and privatize” DPS and other districts under state control. Michigan Radio

OH: Opposition Grows To Outsourcing Upper Arlington’s 911 Calls. . . But opponents worry that if calls are outsourced to Columbus they’ll be confronted by a time-consuming automated system, calls being placed on hold and that help will be delayed. Charlie Reed heads the Save UA 911 organization. “We firmly believe that response times are going to increase. Just the nature of a large call center, it’s a multistep process. And Upper Arlington is small and the call takers are the dispatchers. At a large center you have call takers separate from radio dispatchers. So right there is a two-step process when UA can make it a one step process, it’s very fast,” Reed says. WOSU Public Media