Department of Corrections Requests Budget Increases - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Department of Corrections Requests Budget Increases

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DOVER, De. - The Delaware Department of Corrections has testified to the state that they need more money in Fiscal Year 2016. Officials at the DOC requested an increase of nearly $10 million from the Delaware Office of Management and Budget in additional funds for their next budget, including about $6 million for healthcare costs.

James Welch, the bureau chief for Correctional Healthcare Services of the DOC said that the money is needed to offset rising pharmaceutical costs.

"Pharmaceutical costs are continuing to go up," he said. "And that is not just the D.O.C. It's the Medicaid and with many other insurance companies."

Welch gave various examples of this high cost. He said treatment for Hepatitus C for just one person would cost $84,000 for a 12 week program. Meanwhile "Biologicals," such as the drug Humara could cost $20-30 thousand.

Despite the high costs, Welch said that not treating the inmates would lead to legal problems.

"There is a decision by the Supreme Court years ago," he said. "Estelle Versus Gamble - that requires state and counties to provide healthcare to persons who are in our charge - who are in prisons and jails."

Some Delawareans are concerned about the increases. Mary Cassello from Georgetown said that the department should do more with less.

"I think it should be dispersed elsewhere actually," she said. "We spend enough on the prison system."

This is a sentiment shared by Donna Meding from Seaford.

"I think they need to find another way to work the budget," she said. "There are so many working people that need help right now."

Of the $10 million, about $4 million is for costs that are not associated with healthcare. Some of the larger items include food costs, ammunition, and ballistic vests for officers. The Delaware General Assembly reconvenes in early January.

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