Judge Blocks Prison Medical Privatization Plan

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A judge is blocking implementation of plans to privatize health care services in three of Florida’s four prison system regions.

Circuit Judge John Cooper on Tuesday ruled that the Department of Corrections cannot outsource in the regions north of Palm Beach County. That’s because the Legislature has not provided outsourcing funds in those regions.

Cooper also decided that approval of the funding by the Legislative Budget Commission, a panel of 14 lawmakers, was invalid because only the full Legislature can take that action.

The privatization plans were challenged by two unions representing many of the 3,000 state employees who stand to lose their jobs.

Cooper upheld the outsourcing in South Florida because funding for only that region is included in the current state budget passed by the full Legislature.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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