This morning the LA Times reported that the Schwarzenegger administration is trying to push through a backroom deal to hand all prison medical care over to the University of California (UC) system, under a proposal drafted by the Texas company NuPhysicia. This would be a mistake, and UAPD is calling on the Governor to stop.
What’s wrong with his plan?
It’s Union Busting: The University of California is a notoriously anti-union employer, and by pulling our doctors out of CDCR and sticking them in the UC system, the Governor is trying to strip away the rights these doctors have because they are union employees. CDCR doctors have the right to negotiate, they have job security and fair workplace practices, and they have CalPERS benefits—and the governor wants to take all that away. We’ve made real strides in the last few years to be able to recruit and retain qualified doctors within CDCR, and now the governor wants to bust the union and roll it all back. We won’t stand for it.
Low Quality, Questionable Savings: Our members have worked very hard to improve conditions in the prisons, and we have been more than supportive of Judge Henderson’s order and Receiver Kelso’s implementation of it. Conditions are improving now, but it is hard to believe that handing prison medical care to UC, a big-spending institution that has zero experience in that field, is going to make prison health care better or cheaper. Impartial studies have shown that telemedicine—the cornerstone of UC’s cost saving plan—doesn’t work. Note that the State’s consultant in all this is NuPhysicia — a company that sells telemedicine systems, and presumably wants to sell one to our State. We think it’s time to step back and look at all the conflicts of interest that underlie this deal. It’s
Bad Management: We agree that California spends more than other states on inmate care, but trading one expensive bureaucracy for another is not a solution. UAPD believes that it is half-baked management schemes like this one, driven by profit-seeking consultants, that waste most taxpayer money. Money spent on doctors and nurses to provide direct care to inmates, that is of value, and that’s what this plan threatens to take away.
And We Will Fight: No one has contacted UAPD about this plan or asked for input from our doctors, who have the knowledge and experience to provide sound guidance. Right now our attorneys are working on a formal response, and UAPD leaders are busy in Sacramento, raising important questions about the plan. Next week UAPD will participate in a conference call with other union leadership and the Receiver’s office. As always, we will keep members informed about what we learn. Please feel free to contact UAPD with questions or comments.