Re­port al­leges poor care by Illi­nois pri­son sys­tem

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —Michael San­dler

A re­port is­sued last week by cour­tap­proved re­searchers pro­vides a de­tailed look at med­i­cal care in Illi­nois prisons, out­lin­ing de­lays in treat­ment, desul­tory fol­low-up care and poor record-keep­ing. The fil­ing claims a host of is­sues could have cut short the lives of some in­mates.

The Illi­nois Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions dis­puted the 405-page re­port, which was filed in U.S. Dis­trict Court in Chicago in a class-ac­tion suit against the agency. The re­port makes a damn­ing claim against the IDOC and says, “Illi­nois has been un­able to meet min­i­mal con­sti­tu­tional stan­dards with re­gards to the ad­e­quacy of its health­care pro­gram.” The agency is re­spon­si­ble for 49,000 in­mates statewide.

Plain­tiffs ar­gued that part of the blame lies with Pitts­burgh-based Wex­ford Health Sources, one of the named de­fen­dants. The IDOC in 2011 awarded Wex­ford a 10-year con­tract worth more than $1.3 bil­lion to pro­vide health­care to Illi­nois’ adult in­mates, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany web­site.

Wex­ford has faced pre­vi­ous claims, ac­cord­ing to a past con­tract bid. From Jan. 1, 2004, to Jan. 1, 2009, a to­tal of 463 claims—in­clud­ing let­ters, de­mands and both for­mal and in­for­mal let­ters of in­tent to sue—were sub­mit­ted to Wex­ford from around the coun­try. While it isn’t known how many of the claims be­came law­suits, Wex­ford set­tled 38 of the claims for a to­tal of $3.1 mil­lion over the five years. Nine claims were tried to con­clu­sion, and Wex­ford won five of those ver­dicts.

Wex­ford did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment, but in ear­lier fil­ings the com­pany has de­nied al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the Illi­nois law­suit.

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