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For Immediate Release

January 15, 2003

Contact: Jeff Lyons
Public Information Officer
Phone: 603-271-5602

LEGISLATIVE BUDGET ASSISTANT'S PERFORMANCE AUDIT POINTS TO PROGRESS WITHIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS HEALTH CARE UNIT

(Concord, NH) The New Hampshire Department of Corrections has received and reviewed the Legislative Budget Assistant's performance audit of the department's health care division. The audit is thorough and should aid the department in providing a plan to address these issues.

Corrections Commissioner Phil Stanley said, "Clearly there are areas that need to be improved or enhanced and the audit contains many excellent suggestions for improvement. It validates what we know we need to do."

"The audit also points out our accomplishments in recent years in the face of rising medical and pharmaceutical costs and a growing offender population," Commissioner Stanley added.

Those accomplishments include: appropriate clinical outcomes, favorable financial indicators for medical costs per inmate when compared to other correctional systems, and the establishment of specialty clinics to better control the need to transport inmates outside facilities.

Financial accomplishments highlighted in the audit include a multi-state pharmacy buying group to help the department acquire medications at significant discounts, in-house rehabilitation services that provide appropriate post-hospital care at decreased per-diem hospital costs, and the contractual relationship with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center to provide mental health services.

The report faults the department for its organizational structure, frequent personnel changes and increased use of outside medical consultants. Commissioner Stanley noted the recent appointment of the Administrative Director of Medical and Forensic Services, which has improved the ability to effectively deliver correctional health care. The report concluded, "inmates are generally satisfied with current health services."

Commissioner Stanley said, "It is important to realize that the department has struggled with medical costs, an aging population, and the fact that many inmates do not practice adequate health habits before they are incarcerated. We have a Constitutional responsibility to meet their medical needs. We do not want to have the courts determine that we are indifferent to health care. Court intervention could be very costly."

The department is initiating measures to meet the challenges ahead. Among those are developing internal controls for monitoring all medical provider contracts, establishing a permanent quality improvement system, and the creation of a clinical utilization committee to improve case management. The department is also revising outside medical payment processes to include a billing audit and reconciliation system and revising and developing clinically appropriate protocols and algorithms.

Commissioner Stanley concluded, "We concur with many of the audit recommendations and have already taken steps to implement some of those recommendations. It is our goal to deliver services efficiently and effectively. We are moving in the right direction."

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