Critical Diagnosis

If you think your HMO is bad, check out what Texas has created for its prison inmates

It's hard to say that Kimble died because his medical care was provided by an HMO; it's possible he might have died in a non-HMO arrangement as well. But the circumstances of Kimble's death contrast sharply with what every top prison health care administrator told the Press. Every unit's nursing staff, they said, is especially attuned to responding to emergencies.

Of course, the final question might be, so what? So what if prisoners are poorly cared for? So what if they get boils and rashes from infectious staph, or their TB goes untreated because they've lost hope and won't get up at three in the morning to wait in line at a pill window? So what if prison is unpleasant?

The problem with that line of thought is that, like it or not, most inmates don't stay in prison forever. Eventually, they're released, filled with resentment and cynicism at what the free world calls justice.

And whatever money the public has saved on health care behind bars, it could end up spending again when inmates show up at the doors of tax-funded clinics and hospitals.

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