BOISE, Idaho (AP) -- The Idaho Board of Correction has awarded Corizon Health Inc. a new contract to continue providing medical and mental health care to the state's prison inmates.
The Department of Correction and Corizon have had a rocky relationship. The state has been under pressure from a decades-old lawsuit filed by inmates to improve medical care, and a court-appointed expert concluded more than a year ago that Corizon's medical care at one Idaho prison amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Corizon countered that it was meeting national prison standards and commissioned its own report backing that claim.
Idaho has since reached a settlement with inmates that calls for increased medical staffing and other major changes to the way medical and mental health care is provided in state prisons. The fine details of the settlement are still being polished, but it should go into effect in the coming months, and if the Idaho Department of Correction fulfills the terms for two years with no problems, the three-decades-old lawsuit will officially close.
Four companies submitted bids to take over the prison health care contract, and the proposals were scored based on technical details and overall cost. Corizon's bid had the highest overall score, though it was also the most expensive proposal at nearly $41 million a year. The other three companies — Centurion, a joint venture of MHM Services Inc. and Centene Corp.; Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc.; and NaphCare Inc. — have until Oct. 23 to appeal the award.
The two proposals with the highest overall scores were presented to the Idaho Board of Correction on Tuesday in a "blind bid," which means the names of the companies weren't revealed to board members or others at the meeting until a decision was made.
Corizon's new contract will cost the state $15.31 per offender, per day — for an annualized cost of about $40.9 million. The Brentwood, Tenn., company's technical evaluation score was 600, about 40 points higher than Centurion, which had the next-highest score.
Naphcare had the best score for cost at 400 points — about 40 points higher than Corizon — but Naphcare came in 60 points lower than Corizon on the technical evaluation score.
Corizon's current contract with IDOC give the company a per-inmate, per-day rate of $14.52. The contract also allows the state to assess a fine of sorts — called "liquidated damages" — if Corizon fails to meet some of the contractual requirements. So far this year, IDOC has assessed nearly $27,000 in liquidated damages against Corizon, according to records provided by the agency.