The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Health Care Abuse of Illinois Prisoners

Jul 23, 2023

An Illinois prisoner lost sight in his left eye while serving his sentence. Medical staff refused to provide him care. The prisons’ healthcare contractor, Wexford Health Sources, had a “one good eye policy” which allowed care to be denied if the prisoner could see out of his other eye!

A 24-year-old man with mental illness was refused treatment after he reported to medical staff that he swallowed two plastic utensils. He lost 54 pounds and complained of abdominal pains before dying from esophageal perforation caused by the plastic utensils.

In another case, Wexford medical staff discontinued maintenance chemotherapy for a survivor of brain cancer. After the cancer reappeared, it took months to schedule surgery. But by then it was too late and the prisoner died.

Since 2011, the Illinois Department of Corrections has shelled out over a billion dollars to Wexford Health Sources to provide medical care to nearly 28,000 prisoners.

Hundreds of prisoner complaints have resulted in lawsuits and investigations. In 2019 a federal judge acknowledged Wexford’s malpractice and abuse of prisoners, but failed to take any meaningful action against the company. Instead, it assigned a court-appointed “monitor” to reduce “abuses.”

Despite this monitoring, half of Wexford’s jobs remain unfilled. 53% of physician and medical director positions are vacant, and 48% of registered nurse jobs remain open. Three of the “doctors” on its staff are not even certified by the state. Patients requiring dental work are put on a two year waiting list.

Its contract with the state allows Wexford to strictly manage medical costs as an insurer would. So, Wexford profits by taking as much Illinois taxpayer money as it can get its hands on, and spending as little as possible on health care needs of prisoners. Expect this to continue as the Illinois Department of Corrections recently confirmed that a change in suppliers is not under serious consideration.

Any civilized society, one based on human need rather than profit, would ensure that high quality medical care is available to everyone. And that real justice be enforced, including the prosecution of “health care” murderers like Wexford’s top management and the state officials who are accessories to the crimes when they renew its contract.