The California Department of Corrections continues to waste money on its inmates. A January 2000 report indicated the state medical cost for inmates was 14 percent higher than the national average. This is in part due to the fact the department is paying an excessive amount for pharmaceuticals.
The department has implemented one program that was designed to reduce unnecessary patient visits. Five years ago it began collecting $5 co-payments from inmates to curtail unnecessary visits to the doctor. However this has not been enforced. The majority of inmates are not being charged this $5, and when they are charged they usually walk out of the clinic with about $50 of over-the-counter medications.
This program implemented to curtail unnecessary visits to the doctor needs to be expanded. An inmate will often complain of a illness but when seen by the doctor he will give several issues for the doctor to treat, like dry skin, acne, dandruff, athlete's feet, headache, etc. The doctor will then load the inmate up with free medication, skin lotions, shampoo, beauty bars, acne cream, aspirin, Motrin, suntan lotion, foot powder. Once an inmate receives all of this he can typically return every three months, and receive another three-month supply.