By STEVE BOUSQUET, St. Petersburg Times, FL
January 4, 2006
TALLAHASSEE - The state Department of Corrections has hired Prison Health Services, one of the nation's largest for-profit inmate health care companies, to care for more than 14,000 inmates in a sprawling southeast Florida region from Homestead to Vero Beach.
The contract is for five years with a five-year option to renew at the 13 prisons.
PHS' bid of $545-million was nearly $200-million less than its nearest rival, Wexford Health Sources, which held the contract since 2001. The third bidder was Correctional Medical Services.
PHS, a subsidiary of America Service Group, took over the prisons Monday. When Wexford was hired in 2001, it was the state's largest single outsourcing venture to date.
The state wanted to choose a vendor based on factors besides cost, but the Legislature ordered the agency to reopen the contract and hire the lowest bidder.
After a yearlong investigation of Prison Health Services, the New York Times reported last February that substandard care by the company contributed to at least 15 inmate deaths in 11 Florida jails since 1992.