Governor Corbett’s proposal to privatize our DOC health care services is bad for nurses, bad for the public and falls far short of projected cost savings, reads a new report just released by SEIU Healthcare PA and the CLEAR Coalition.
“The history of contracted prison health care both in Pennsylvania and across the country is a history of unrealized cost savings, lawsuits and diminished care. Expanding the scope of privatized healthcare will likely result in more of the same for the DOC,” states the report, “Department of Corrections Healthcare: Public Health and Safety in the Commonwealth’s Prisons.”
With examples from across the country of unsuccessful attempts at privatizing prison health care services, this report undermines Governor Corbett’s claims that outsourcing with maintain security, safety and reduce state dollars spent. Some highlights include:
Inaccurate Savings Projections:
“Cost overruns combined with hidden and indirect costs, such as contract monitoring and administration, can make privatization more expensive than in-house services for governments.”
Compromised Nurse Security:
“Agency nurses do not have the same training and experience in security protocols that DOC nurses have… and do not view themselves as part of the security team and place an extra strain on DOC staff.”
Reduced Public Safety:
“Agency nurses do not have the same level of commitment to educating inmates about managing their conditions and diseases for their eventual return to the community. Health education is an involved process that takes time and requires establishing a rapport with the patient. A more transient workforce will be less effective at education than a stable, dedicated workforce.”
A half-dozen corrections nurses (along with one 2-year-old little elf) traveled to Harrisburg to deck the halls of the state capitol building on Tuesday, December 13. The group spread holiday cheer to lawmakers, thanking the 63 sponsors who’ve already signed on to our cause, and reaching out to those who haven’t yet joined us.
The group delivered holiday cards to the offices of House and Senate members in support of House Bill 1985, introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Fleck, and Senate Bill 1342, introduced by Republican Sen. David Argall. The bills, unveiled the same day as our informational picket last month, would put a stop to the administration’s plan to outsource nursing jobs at our prisons.
While the legislature is now in recess until next year, our work is just beginning. We continue to deliver our cards and carry our message to legislative offices across Pennsylvania.
We will not stop until every lawmaker and every citizen in every corner of the state has received our message, loud and clear: All we want this holiday is a safe and secure community!
Registered nurses at correctional facilities across Pennsylvania stood up for safety and security in our communities and against outsourcing of health care jobs on November 16th at informational pickets outside ten state prisons.
Despite the constant rain, more than 100 nurses led dozens of allies from other unions and the community at State Correctional Institutions at Albion, Camp Hill, Coal, Graterford, Greene, Greensburg, Houtzdale, Mercer, Retreat and Rockview. The pickets were organized after the state announced in September that it planned to seek bids from subcontractors to fill DOC nursing jobs.
“The safety and security of our citizens is a basic government service. Sadly, the plan to outsource health care work at our state prisons puts our entire population at risk, inside and outside these walls,” said Shawn Baer, a registered nurse at the State Correctional Institution at Greensburg. “As nurses, we do more than just provide health care. We are an important part of the security team. We can’t pass off this important work to a private company.”
As our pickets got underway, State Rep. Mike Fleck held a news conference in Harrisburg to introduce House Bill 1985, which would stop the outsourcing plan. State Sen. David G. Argall is proposing similar legislation in the Senate. Watch their press conference:
The Commonwealth Health Professionals, members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, have overwhelmingly ratified their new 4-year agreement by 93 percent. The new contract follows the other unions, with a 10.75% wage increase over the next 4 years and no increase in healthcare until 2014 when all but a ½ percent of the 2 percent increase can be avoided by enrolling in the “get healthy” program. In return, on January 1, 2012 members will cap sick time accrual at 11 days, 2 days less than their current 13.
“Members feel good about the settlement. At a time when public sector unions are under attack across the country, we were able to maintain good standards, get a respectable increase and increase our ability to advocate for our patients and our profession,” said Harriet Lenair, an RN at Wernersville State Hospital.
In addition, there were important improvements to education benefits including certification pay, out-service training, and an additional education day. Members will have the ability to request civil leave for disaster relief efforts, advocate for their profession through recruitment and retention discussions and renegotiate particular sections should nurse licensure requirements change during the 4 year agreement.
CONGRATULATIONS to the negotiating committee and all State nurses for standing together to reach this settlement!
Our fight has just begun to protect healthcare services for the people of the Commonwealth, ensure that corporations making huge profits in this state are paying their fair share, and stand up to the threats of privatization and downsizing of State services.
Unions that represent state employees in PA joined together in a lawsuit to end payless paydays once and for all. The PA Supreme Court has ruled that most state employees must be paid for working during a budget impasse.
Read this Patriot-News article for more information.