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Workers union poised to sue after state clears way for prison health privatization

A union for state workers is racing to sue Florida after lawmakers cleared the way Wednesday to privatize health care in prisons.

A legislative panel voted 6-4 to allow the state's Department of Corrections to try and plug its $60 million deficit by turning inmate care over to private for-profit companies.

The lawsuit could be filed as early as Thursday, said Doug Martin, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, known as AFSCME.

About 2,600 state workers who provide prescriptions, mental health and other medical services to prisoners find their jobs and benefits in limbo over the deal, which was vetted through a 14-member budget panel, with four members absent, rather than through the more rigorous legislative committee process.

The Legislative Budget Commission hears agency requests for funding shifts between legislative sessions, and is taking on an unprecedented authority by approving the controversial change, said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston.

See story here.