US$8 billion needed for prison health care system, says official
A lot of academic bioethics deals with allocation of health priorities.
Nowhere is there a clearer instance of competing priorities than in California.
On the one hand, voters overwhelmingly voted in 2004 to burden the state with a
US$3 billion bond issue to create the California Institute for Regenerative
Medicine. This gigantic amount was originally to be spent largely on embryonic
stem cell research. Ultimately, after interest payments are included, the cost
will be $6 billion. Since the CIRM is bulletproofed against legislative
interference, only a new constitutional amendment can make its funds available
for any other health initiatives.
On the other hand, California is almost broke. Its prisons are so overcrowded
and the health needs of inmates are so pressing that the court-appointed
receiver in charge of the prison health care system wants $6 billion for new
prison health care centers and $2 billion to improve existing ones. A leading
politician in the California Assembly, Mike Villines, called this "a ridiculous
sum." He questioned how the state could justify spending that amount on inmate
medical care "when hardworking taxpayers can’t even get health care in
California." Hmmm. At least they can read about taxpayer-funded stem cell
research… ~ San
Diego Union Tribune, Aug 13
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