On October 3, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) notified the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) that it rejected GEO Care’s bid to privatize and run the Kerrville State Hospital, one of ten such facilities which care for mentally ill Texans.
The agency went on to say that “GEO Care’s proposal, as written, met the condition of the 10% savings for four years, however, their proposal only received a score of 64 out of a possible 100. These savings were achieved primarily through reductions in staffing and benefits, to a degree that would put both our patients and the state of Texas at risk. GEO sought to reduce staffing levels by 21%, which would have severely eroded care for the individual needs of patients at these facilities.”
Organized power delivers
TSEU and a coalition of advocacy groups have opposed the privatization of any public state hospital from the beginning. Union members across the state made hundreds of phone calls and met with legislators who represent a state hospital in their area, calling on them to oppose any attempts to privatize state hospitals. Legislators, at the urging of TSEU members, wrote letters to DSHS officials expressing their concerns and opposition to the privatization plan.
The fight is not over
The Public Consulting Group, a private consulting firm, was contracted by the state to do an analysis of the state’s Public Behavioral Health System. Their study is now public. The study makes recommendations that could move toward privatization or contracted management of the entire Public Mental Health system including closure or privatization of state hospitals. This is just a study at the moment. Stakeholder meetings have been held with comments from TSEU, advocate groups, and civil rights groups who are all a part of the same coalition that came together to oppose the Kerrville privatization. The recommendations will have to go through the legislative process for approval.