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5/12/2015 5:15 PM
By Associated Press

No rating improvement for New York City jail health provider

NEW YORK (AP) — Overall performance of the private health care provider for New York City's jails failed to improve last year amid heightened scrutiny over inmate deaths that put the company's contract under review, according to an evaluation obtained by The Associated Press.

Corizon Health Inc., whose three-year, $126 million contract expires Dec. 31, received an overall rating of "fair" in 2014 for the second straight year after being downgraded from "good," according to the annual review conducted by the city health department.

Officials noted the Brentwood, Tennessee-based company improved its care of mentally ill inmates, who make up about 40 percent of the roughly 10,000-inmates in New York's sprawling Rikers Island jail complex. But the company did a "subpar" job prioritizing the sickest inmates to be seen in jail health clinics, the evaluation shows.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the Corizon contract is still under review. In March, the mayor said administration officials were taking "a hard look" at the contract. The city health department, which is charged with providing health care to the jail, has not issued any formal requests for proposals to solicit new bids.

But a person with knowledge of the administration's discussions, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because no final determination has been made on a contract, said it was likely the city's public hospital system would take over inmate care.

Corizon's flat ratings come amid heightened scrutiny of the jails in the wake of a series of AP revelations last year about gruesome deaths of mentally ill inmates at Rikers — including one left alone for hours in a cell that sweltered to 101-degrees because of malfunctioning equipment and another left unchecked, covered in feces, in his cell without medication for days, during which time he sexually mutilated himself.

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