Alabama rescinds prison health care contract award, will start process over

By Mike Cason

The Alabama Criminal Justice Center houses the headquarters of the Alabama Department of Correc- tions and the Alabama Department of Public Safety. (Rivers A. Langley | Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Alabama Department of Corrections has rescinded its decision to pick a new company to provide comprehensive medical and mental health care to inmates.

The ADOC announced in July that it had picked YesCare Corp., based in Brentwood, Tenn., for the three-year contract covering 26 correctional facilities. The ADOC said it would enter contract negotiations with YesCare and expected the agreement to take effect Oct. 1.

The updated notification posted on the ADOC website says: “Out of an abundance of caution, the ADOC has determined that it is in the state’s best interest to rescind this RFP (request for proposals) and any previously issued notice of intent to award.” The department said it will reissue the RFP but did not say when. The update was posted last week.

In July, the ADOC said it picked YesCare over four other companies that submitted proposals: Centurion, Vital Core, Wellpath, and Wexford Health, the current provider. ADOC Commissioner John Hamm said an RFP committee reviewed the five proposals and picked YesCare based on a combination of quality and overall cost.

The quality of health care and mental health care for inmates is the subject of an eight-year-old federal lawsuit filed on behalf of inmates.

Five years ago, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled that the state’s mental health care was “horrendously inadequate.” The court remains involved in overseeing efforts by the state to increase staffing and improve care.

The case is separate but has some overlapping issues with the Department of Justice lawsuit filed in 2020 alleging unconstitutional conditions in Alabama’s prisons for men.