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Corrections, Wexford Battling Over Prison Health Contract

Prison corridor with inmates in distance
Associated Press
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A prison health-care company is asking a judge to allow it to pursue a challenge to the Florida Department of Corrections' decision in January to award a contract to another firm to provide health services at the majority of the state's prisons.

Wexford Health Sources, Inc., filed a document Friday in the state Division of Administrative Hearings arguing that it should be able to continue a formal protest against the department's award of a $268 million contract to Centurion of Florida, LLC.

The department signed the contract with Centurion in January, after another firm, Corizon Health, decided to end its contract to provide services to about three-fourths of the state's inmates.

Wexford, which serves inmates in other parts of the state, filed a protest against the department's decision to award the contract to Centurion.

But the department filed a motion March 2 arguing, in part, that the "contract with Centurion was authorized by statute," and that Administrative Law Judge R. Bruce McKibben should "relinquish jurisdiction" in Wexford's protest, a move that effectively would end it. Wexford, however, fired back Friday by arguing that it has grounds to protest the contract award and that the case ultimately should move forward.

"The subject of this proceeding is whether the DOC acted properly and legally when it entered into a no-bid contract for the provision of health services in certain regions of the state prison system for inmates in the custody of the DOC,'' the Wexford document said.