A Centurion subsidiary will provide health services for over three-fourths of prisoners in Florida's penal system, which has been investigated for inmate deaths.
Centurion of Florida, which is a joint venture of Centene Corp. and MHM Services, will replace Corizon Health, a prison healthcare provider that stepped away from a five-year, $1.2 billion contract.
Centurion also serves prisons in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Tennessee and Vermont. It will begin operations in Florida this spring. The deal, estimated at $268 million, ends January 2018, at which point a new contract will be up for grabs, according to a statement by Centene.
In December, Corizon exercised a 180-day cancellation provision to end what was the richest prison healthcare contract in the country. Corizon said it was losing up to $1 million per month on the deal.
Corizon executives said requests to increase their payments based on changes in the Consumer Price Index were never approved by Florida's Legislature.
But Corizon has faced other issues, in Florida and nationwide.
Florida lawmakers and inmates alleged the company routinely provides inadequate care. Attorneys for Florida inmates in September filed a class-action lawsuit against both the state's Department of Corrections and Corizon, alleging they were denying hernia operations to save money.
Meantime, news reports have shown suspicious deaths were covered up or never investigated.
Additionally, Corizon has lost five contracts with state prison systems since 2012 and is fighting to keep others. Last June, New York City officials ended Corizon's contract because of concerns over quality of care in the city's jails.
After taking control of Florida's Department of Corrections in January 2014, Secretary Julie Jones said she would rebid healthcare contracts with Corizon and Wexford Health Sources. Wexford has a $267 million contract to handle inmates in the southern part of the state.
But Wexford, too, has had problems. The Pittsburgh-based private company faces a class-action suit alleging substandard medical care in Illinois prisons.