Monday, April 9, 2012

Arizona privatizes prison health care: Pays more for it!

Arizona's Department of Corrections awarded a three-year contract to privatize health care for prison inmates that will cost the state $5 million a year more than it spent in 2011.

The contract was awarded to Wexford Health Sources Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Wexford, which has previously lost contracts for poor service and was implicated in a 2008 payoff scandal in Illinois, bid $116.3million a year, $1.1million less than the second-place bid by Corizon Inc. of Brentwood, Tennesseee, reported the Arizona Republic.

The contract, which is renewable for two additional years, was approved by Corrections Director Charles Ryan and reviewed by the Governor's Office before it was issued. Arizona spent $111.3 million last fiscal year on correctional health-care services for nearly 34,000 inmates in 10 state prisons.

Over the past three years, health-care spending by the Corrections Department has dropped nearly $30 million, in part because of a declining prison population and reduced staff levels. Caroline Isaacs, director of the American Friends Service Committee's Tucson office, a prison-watchdog group, told the Republic, "This has never been about saving money; the real reason is that legislators are ideologically wedded to privatization and damn the evidence."

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