The Volusia County Council. File photo by Jarleene Almenas

Volusia County to drop current inmate health care provider

The county will begin negotiations with Centurion, which was a more favorable option to the council.
Aug. 21, 2018

The Volusia County Council has decided to not renew the jail's current inmate health care provider, choosing instead to pursue negotiations with a Virginia company. 

The decision was reached by the council at its meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 21, using a scoring system where the company with the lowest score won the bid. This followed four 10-minute presentations by each of the healthcare companies vying to provide services for the jail — a high-cost budget item for Volusia.

The winner was Centurion Detention Health Services, LLC, whose parent company is Centene Corporation. The county's current inmate health care provider, Miami-based Armor Correctional Health Services, was ranked third amidst questions of ongoing lawsuits.

It costs the county a total of $10 million to treat its estimated 1,400 inmates. Armor's fixed cost per contract was $6.2 million. The remaining $3.8 million went to offsite care, additional services and inmate security while offsite.

County Councilwoman Deb Denys pointed out that this was a big financial commitment to the county, with a difference of $1.25 million from the lowest to highest bid. Centurion had the highest bid at over $4 million.

“That’s a big spread," she said.

To this, County Chair Ed Kelley said he was taking into consideration the known background of the financial conditions of the health care providers as well as staffing levels and outstanding lawsuits.

“I’m not looking totally at the lowest possible cost, necessarily," Kelley said. "I’m looking for results, quality care, reducing some of the things that we’ve experienced in years gone by.”

He gave Armor a score of three and Centurion a score of 1. 

Centurion treats an estimated 88,000 inmates, according to CEO Steven Wheeler. If awarded the contract, it will be in place for three years. Should negotiations go awry, the county will then turn to second-choice Wexford Health Sources, Inc., which is based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

What's important to the county, he added, was to focus on better care for inmates, minimizing outside trips and gaining better outcomes overall. 

Denys agreed and added contract provisions to Kelley's list. She said she wasn't just looking at the bottom line either.

“There’s multiple facets in looking at all of this," Denys agreed.