MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A new study shows Wisconsin's prisoner health care costs are rising. A Pew Charitable Trusts and MacArthur Foundation report released Tuesday examined states' costs from 2001 to 2008. The study found Wisconsin's spending jumped 31 percent to nearly $4,850 per inmate in 2008.
The report attributes the increases to growing and aging prison populations, higher incidences of mental illness and chronic conditions. It mentions that states could save on costs by covering prisoners through Medicaid. The current state budget lifts a cap on Medicaid enrollment for childless adults who make 100 percent or less of the federal poverty level beginning in January 2014, allowing prisoners to qualify for coverage for overnight hospital costs. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that federal reimbursements for such coverage could save the state as much $11.7 million by mid-2015.