Minnesota changes medical care provider for prisons

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For the first time in more than a decade, Minnesota is making a change in the company that manages medical care of prison inmates.

Department of Corrections spokesman John Schadl tells MPR the state is switching to Centurion Managed Care partly because of its track record of dealing with mental illness among prisoners. Schadl says 25 percent of the men and 65 percent of the women in state prisons have a history of mental illness.

The Star Tribune reports Centurion was not the low bidder for the $67.2 million contract. According to the newspaper, the state's incumbent medical care manager - Corizon, Inc. - submitted a bid that was more than $100,000 cheaper.

But a Star Tribune investigation last year found that under Corizon's watch, at least nine inmates have died because medical care was denied or delayed. Those include a man who reportedly died after suffering seizures in his cell in Rush City. The state paid $400,000 to the man's family last May to settle that case.

MPR says Centurion is a Fortune 500 company based in St. Louis. Its two-year contract starts on New Year's Day.

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