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10 vendors vie for Florida Dept. of Corrections healthcare contract worth hundreds of millions

Centurion's care costs the state millions in lawsuits
Florida Department of Corrections.png
Posted at 10:34 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 18:35:22-04

TALLAHASEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) is looking at other companies to treat inmates in its care after the ABC Action News I-Team series Crisis in Corrections highlighted serious concerns surrounding basic healthcare in the state prison system, which have led to taxpayers footing the bill for millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements.

Four years ago, a Virginia-based company, Centurion, was the only bidder for the $375 million contract to provide healthcare to the third largest state prison system in the country.

FDC will wrap up a two-week tour of a dozen prisons on Wednesday, with 10 prospective contractors.

Full Coverage | Crisis in Corrections series

Last year, State Rep. Dianne Hart (D-Tampa) told the I-Team, “We are not providing the medical care that so many of our people need.”

The said the level of care must improve.

“Going into these facilities and speaking to the wardens and to the correctional officers, everybody says the same thing. We have no real medical provider. They’re not providing people medication as they should, they’re not sending people on sick calls as they should," Hart said. “I mean, they did a study. So it’s not like it’s me who’s saying it because I’m visiting and they’re telling me, it’s in writing. And we’re still allowing them to be responsible for our inmates.”

RELATED: Shortage of health care staff in Florida prisons increases danger, retired nurse says

In its Invitation to Negotiate (ITN), the Department of Corrections said beyond providing care a required by law, it hopes to improve care:

  • Reducing Inmate mortality where early detection and appropriate, timely treatment could have avoided preventable mortality
  • Ensuring that Inmates in Special Housing have full access to and receive the same level of care as Inmates in General Population
  • Improving the provision of assessment, development, and implementation of mental health treatment at all levels and settings of care
  • Reducing the volume of Inmate grievances and litigation related to health care services
  • Improving waiting times for consultations, diagnostic testing, and treatment
  • Reducing the use of unsecured community hospital units and increasing the use of secured community hospital units to alleviate the need for additional security staff resources and overtime
  • Ensuring Inmates are prepared for continued medical care and supportive services, where appropriate, upon their release back into the community
  • Maximizing technology and efficiencies to provide enhanced services at reduced costs, including the establishment and expansion of academic partnerships

Intent to Negotiate_Centurion by ABC Action News

According to a 2019 study on FDC's health care, the state could save an estimated $46 million if it did not outsource prison health care but it would continue to be difficult to recruit and retain staff.

FDC told the I-Team Centurion is one of the 10 companies participating in the mandatory site visits. The last stop is scheduled for Wednesday morning at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution.

When asked if there could be a return to state-run healthcare, FDC said it "intends to award a single contract in early May 2023 for comprehensive health care services to the vendor who provides the best value to the State."

19-FDCMed by ABC Action News