Arizona prison system hires controversial health care provider

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – A company that recently settled a nearly $700,000 lawsuit over allegations that it lied to the federal government is now providing health care to Arizona’s prison system and its 34,000 detainees.

The Department of Justice accused NaphCare, Incorporated of violating the False Claims Act, alleging that it overcharged the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the services it provided.

The Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Rehabilitation selected NaphCare Inc., an Alabama-based private healthcare provider, after a six-month competitive evaluation process.

“It certainly raises concerns that once again the taxpayers of Arizona will pay inflated prices for health care to which incarcerated persons are constitutionally entitled and which incarcerated persons may pay with their lives. or their health,” said Vice Principal Corene Kendrick. for the ACLU’s National Prison Project.

Kendrick has followed the ADCRR for years and represents inmates in a case originally filed in 2012, which alleges the ADCRR’s health care is so poor that it violates inmates’ constitutional rights.

The parties settled in 2014, but a federal judge ordered the parties to go to trial again. The state racked up more than $2 million in fines for failing to meet prison health care standards outlined in the statement.

Now, the ADCRR has elected to move forward with NaphCare pending hearing of the federal government’s decision.

“We actually asked Judge Silver to find that this law that the state has put in place that requires a for-profit provider be used for health care be repealed. While health care was by no means perfect when the state did it, as the court expert showed, there is a profit motive when you hire companies to do this kind of service for prisons and prisoners,” Kendrick said.

NaphCare, Inc. may sound familiar. The Pima County Board of Supervisors signed an approximately $17 million contract with NaphCare in 2021 to provide health care services to inmates at the Pima County Jail. Sheriff Chris Nanos said he was told by corrections staff that the company “bends over backwards to meet our needs”.

The county signed the contract with NaphCare just months after the US Department of Justice announced a settlement of $694,593 with the Alabama-based company.

“We will hold accountable those who knowingly fail to comply with this obligation and seek public funds to which they are not entitled,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.

In a statement, ADCRR Director David Shinn said, “Considering our selection of a new health care partner, providing maximum savings to the Arizona taxpayer and providing health care highest quality to inmates in our custody were top priorities. We believe NaphCare was the best possible choice in these areas. »

NaphCare is a household name in southern Arizona. The Pima County Board of Supervisors signed a $17 million contract with NaphCare in 2021 to provide health care services to inmates at the Pima County Jail.

This contract was signed shortly after NaphCare agreed to pay $694,593 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act.

The US Department of Justice claims that NaphCare knowingly submitted false statements to the Federal Bureau of Prisons regarding health care services provided to inmates.

KOLD contacted NaphCare regarding the contract with ADCRR. A spokesperson said the claims they submitted to the federal government were in no way false.

“NaphCare has actively cooperated with the DOJ to resolve the investigation through a settlement. NaphCare has always acted with integrity and transparency in its service to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons and we always will,” a doorman said. -say NaphCare.

The ADCRR declined to comment, but according to a press release, director David Shinn said, “In considering our selection of a new healthcare partner, providing maximum savings to the Arizona taxpayer and providing the highest quality care to the inmates in our custody were top priorities. We believe NaphCare was the best possible choice in these areas. »

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