Published: Jul 17, 2012 5:44 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida is going ahead with privatizing prison health care services.
    
The decision Tuesday by Department of Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker follows a judge's refusal to rule on a legal challenge by unions representing nurses and other prison employees.
    
Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll on July 2 ruled it was a moot issue because a state budget provision authorizing the privatization had expired.
    
Tucker, an appointee of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, contends other laws allow him to proceed with the outsourcing.
    
In a statement, Tucker said contracting work now performed by state employees to private companies will save money for taxpayers.
    
Department spokeswoman Ann Howard said no estimate has been made of the potential savings because it's hard to predict the number and severity of inmate medial problems.

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