OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation approved today by the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety would give the Department of Corrections more flexibility in how it addresses the health care needs of Oklahoma inmates.

Senate Bill 180, by state Sen. Susan Paddack and state Rep. Doug Cox, would allow the Department of Corrections to contract with physicians and other providers of health care services, equipment and health care-related products beyond the professional capabilities of the agency.

According to the Department of Corrections, if the legislation had been in effect in fiscal year 2010, the department would have saved approximately $2 million in medical costs.

 “Properly addressing a health care need early can prevent a greater cost in trying to address the condition after it has worsened,” said Cox, an emergency room physician. “Allowing this agency to contract with private health care entities ensures that they can meet any prisoner’s need promptly and thus save taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be spent on a problem that had snowballed into something more costly.”