In a move to end privatized healthcare to Arizona Department of Corrections inmates, several Democratic members of the Arizona House of Representatives submitted a bill to end ADC’s use of private healthcare companies.
Representatives Diego Rodriguez (D) LD 27, Isela Blanc (D) LD 26, Domingo DeGrazia (D) LD 10, Charlene R. Fernandez (D) LD 4, Geraldine Peten (D) LD 4, and Powers-Hannley (D) LD 09 have co-sponsored House Bill 2045 calling for the termination of contracted health, dental, and mental health services from private companies and returns the administration of health care delivery back to the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The Arizona Legislature passed a law in 2011 that was signed by then governor Jan Brewer, which privatized the medical care system for Arizona inmates. The stated reason for the move to privatized healthcare was to save money for the state.
In April 2012, a small private company, Wexford, was awarded a three-year contract at $116.3 million annually, which totaled $349 million over the three-year term of the contract. This amount exceeded the state’s allocation for inmate healthcare by $5 millions dollars.
In 2012, a class action suit representing over 34,000 ADC inmates was filed by the ACLU, Prison Law Office, and the Disability Law Center. The case, Parsons v. Ryan, 2:12-cv-00601-NVW was filed in the United States District court for the District of Arizona.
In a shocking move, the ADC terminated its contract early with Wexford due to non-compliance with the terms of that contract. Wexford vehemently denied assertions from ADC officials that they were non-compliant and instead blamed the state for obfuscating the depth and breadth of the problems in the ADC healthcare system.
The next company to win the healthcare contract was Corizon Health. However, problems persisted and after several years of litigation and a growing amount of evidence of inmate mistreatment, the parties entered into a stipulated agreement.
A number of items were agreed upon by the parties including monitoring of medical, mental health, and dental services to inmates. Plaintiffs’ attorneys alleged non-compliance with the stipulated agreement by ADC and a hearing was held. Judge Rosanne Silver ultimately fined ADC $1.4 million dollars for non-compliance with the stipulated agreement.
Additionally, Judge Silver ordered a comprehensive report on ADC’s provision of healthcare by an independent consultant. Judge Silver selected Dr. Marc Stern to investigate, create, and deliver the report. After conducting an extensive review of ADC’s healthcare system, Dr. Stern recommended that the legislature rescind its 2011 law mandating private healthcare and that ADC “return to self-operating health care services.”
House Bill 2045 would eliminate the requirement and preclude ADC from entering into any new agreements with private companies for healthcare services. The bill further mandates that the ADC resume the medical, mental health, and dental services for inmates.