Miami-Dade to Privatize Inmate Medical Care
By Helen Christophi (01/27/2011)

MIAMI — America Service Group has announced that Jackson Health System has asked its subsidiary, Prison Health Services (PHS), to negotiate a contract to provide private healthcare services for inmates under the custody and control of the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.

The contract, which could run up to 11 years, will serve about 6,100 inmates, America Service Group said in a statement.

Healthcare services are anticipated to commence approximately 60 days from the execution of a definitive agreement between the parties and to generate between $65 and $69 million for the first contract year.

“We are proud to have earned the right to serve the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department in its first-time privatization of correctional healthcare services,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of PHS Richard Hallworth in a statement.

Jackson Health System executives estimate that privatizing inmate medical care will save the system $8 million a year, but they do not appear certain how much the services currently cost the public hospital system, and have failed to respond to requests to disclose the amount.

Jackson provides the county’s public health services.

Jackson says it will lose $102 million for fiscal year 2010 and lost $244 million in fiscal year 2009. Jackson recently signed a $45.3-million, 5-year contract with consulting firm MedAssets to help it cut costs. Jackson CEO Eneida Roldan announced she will leave the hospital when her contract expires in June.

Prison Health Services and Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services have been battling each other for months to win the contract, but now it seems that PHS has pulled ahead in the race.

“The Request for Proposal has been ongoing for over a year and was conducted in a completely transparent process,” Hallworth said. “Upon completion of contract negotiations, we look forward to an orderly transition and providing ongoing healthcare in partnership with the Public Health Trust/ Jackson Health System and the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department.”

The anticipated contract between Public Health Trust/Jackson Health System and PHS is subject to successful negotiation and execution of a definitive agreement between the two entities.

Armor suffered a setback earlier this month when a Broward County Jail nurse employed by the company was arrested and charged with a felony for giving a cell phone to an inmate and sending him nude photographs of herself. Armor contracts with the jail.

America Service Group Inc., based in Brentwood, Tennessee, provides and administers correctional healthcare services to over 160 correctional facilities throughout the U.S. Through its subsidiaries, it also provides healthcare programs to state, county and local government agencies for the medical care of prison and jail inmates.

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