Missouri prison health contract won by company accused of bid-rigging in Tennessee

The longtime medical services contractor in Missouri prisons is protesting the state’s decision to outsource the business to a company that is and is more than what the law requires Accused of forging offers to get a contract in Tennessee prisons.

Centurion Health, a subsidiary of the St. Louis-based managed care company Centene in Virginia, prevailed against four other bidders – including the current provider Corizon Health – in an order placed on May 28. Under the terms of the contract, Centurion would be paid $ 174.6 million for the year beginning July 1. The initial contract term is three years, with four optional years, and Centurion’s offering over the period is $ 1.4 billion.

Legislators allocated $ 152.8 million for medical services in prisons in the coming year, the third year the amount has remained unchanged. The actual cost in fiscal 2020 was $ 149.9 million.

In the formal protest filed last week, Corizon wrote that it was treated unfairly in the scoring and Centurion failed to report issues that made it scandalous on the 10th.

“Corizon is aware that it will not always be the successful bidder, but it expects and is entitled to a fair bidding process, and that did not happen here,” wrote the company in the protest filed with the state purchasing department.

The protest is being investigated by the administrative office, which handles the procurement for the state. A decision will be made, including the findings and analysis of the allegations, and if the protest continues, the contract could be terminated, the agency’s spokesman said.

Both Centurion and Corizon declined to comment on the allegations contained in the protest or bidding process when contacted by the Independent.

Corizon’s protest said the Tennessee Contract scandal is important to the Missouri award as key employees named in the Missouri bid have been sacked for their involvement.

In Tennessee, Corizon sued Centurion after winning that state’s $ 123 million contract for mental health services in prisons.

Filing inquiries and evidence uncovered in the Tennessee lawsuit revealed that Wesley Landers, Chief Financial Officer of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, was communicating with Centurion officers on an ongoing basis and providing confidential information, including draft bid documents.

In the middle of the bidding process, Centurion hired Landers as Vice President. But it fired him and one of his main contacts at the company, Jeffrey Wells, in February.

Tennessee terminated the contract in May after the details of the deal were released through the Corizon lawsuit.

Although Wells was fired a month earlier, Centurion’s final offer document listed Wells “as the corporate team member with primary responsibility for delivering the Missouri contract,” Corizon’s protest said.

The offer also states that Centurion claimed “it never lost a contract for any negative reason when it knew a contract would be terminated for misconduct,” the protest said, “and later failed to disclose that the contract was terminated due to misconduct. ”

Both are misrepresentations that should disqualify Centurion, according to the Corizon protests.

The inadequate communication is worrying, the protest claims, because it shows Centurion’s willingness to break the rules in order to win public contracts.

“Corizon fears that Centurion attempted or might have committed similar behavior in this context (Request for Proposals),” said the protest. “Corizon’s investigation is ongoing and it reserves the right to change its protest if necessary to reflect newly acquired information.”

After the contract was awarded, the protest said, Corizon sent documentation requests to the Missouri Department of Corrections and the State Division of Purchasing. The purchasing department said they could not comply with the request before the protest period had expired. The protest accuses the correction department of violating the Sunshine Act by not responding in the required time and directing inquiries to the purchasing department instead of looking for records in their possession.

In response to a request from the Independent, correctional agency spokeswoman Karen Pojmann declined to address Corizon’s allegations.

“Because the contract is still a protest and the contract is not a prison contract, but an administrative office, we are unfortunately unable to comment,” wrote Pojmann in an email.

In the protest, Corizon cites the high costs as a reason for the state to dissolve the contract. According to the protest, the price will far exceed the approval level for medical services in prisons in the coming year and violate state laws that align contracts with the “lowest and best” offer.

Centurion’s offer carried the second highest cost of the five proposals, $ 21.8 million more than state lawmakers assumed.

Wexford Health Sources, a Pennsylvania company, offered the lowest price at $ 154.7 million, while Corizon offered to do the work for $ 159 million. Over the entire seven years, Corizon’s offer was $ 183 million below Centurion’s and Wexford Health was $ 232 million below Centurion’s.

As part of determining whether a vendor can deliver at the quoted price, a committee evaluates proposals based on a variety of factors including experience, work schedule, team qualifications, and other criteria.

Corizon Health and its predecessor companies have provided prison health services in Missouri since it was contracted 29 years ago. It received a score of 109.44 out of a possible 218, the fourth lowest, while Centurion received a score of 171.18.

The other values ​​were Wellpath, a Tennessee company, at 154.46; Wexford Health with 145.1 points; and InGenesis, a company with no health experience in prison, got a score of 99.36.

“The similar evaluation of Corizon’s proposal to InGenesis,” said the protest, “and the extreme discrepancy between the evaluation of Corizon’s proposal compared to Centurion’s and Wellpath’s proposal shows an unfair bias towards Corizon in the evaluation process.”

Corizon’s record as a health care provider in the state prison is mixed. It is the largest for-profit health care provider in prisons in the country. and has been sued several times by inmates in Missouri and other states in which it operates.

It has struggled to maintain its contracts in recent years. Corizon lost the Kansas Department of Corrections Contract to Centurion in April 2020.

The Missouri Independent is a non-profit, non-partisan news organization dedicated to state government and its impact on Missouri residents.

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