Prison Medical Firm Booted From NY Jail

     MANHATTAN (CN) — New York's attorney general has settled a lawsuit against a for-profit medical services company that he blames for shoddy medical care that contributed to the deaths of at least a dozen inmates in a Long Island jail since 2011.
     Armor Correctional Health Services will pay the state $350,000, and will be barred from soliciting bids in the New York for at least three years, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, and it cannot renew its $11 million contract with the Nassau County Correctional Facility.
     Schneiderman sued the Florida-based company in Manhattan Supreme Court in July.
     "This settlement agreement sends a clear message that companies who fail to provide the required Health Services to inmates won't be tolerated in New York State," Schneiderman said Wednesday.
     "Prison inmates rely on companies providing health services for a wide range of medical issues, many of which have gone untreated," Schneiderman said after he sued the company this summer. "Those struggling with chronic diseases, mental health and substance abuse problems deserve comprehensive reliable and high-quality medical care.
     "Failing to provide proper health services as required is completely unacceptable. Neglecting the duty to provide adequate care not only defrauds taxpayers, it compromises the health and safety of inmates, with sometimes fatal consequences."
     The attorney general's accusations included failing to respond to inmates' request for medical assistance, failing to provide the level of care it promised, denying inmates medicine, and failing to offer proper mental health services and referrals.
     The lawsuit stated that the state's "revealed that Armor has not met its contractual obligations to Nassau County as evidenced by the following: inadequate self-assessments (or 'self-audits') and inadequate continuous quality improvement processes that would ensure quality of health care services; deficient sick call procedures; failure to provide access to medications; inadequate diagnostic services; deficient mental health services; inadequate referrals to specialists; failure to maintain ... its equipment and ... accurate and complete medical records; and inadequate staffing."
     Schneiderman said that since he sued it, Armor has been submitting monthly statistics, and Nassau County has hired an independent monitor to ensure compliance with his demands.
     At the time he sued, Schneiderman said that Armor cooperated with his investigation, turned over all requested documents and even offered him a tour of the jail.
     Armor said in a statement after it was sued that the attorney general's office "has refused to visit the facility. Further, Armor has provided a substantial amount of data that simply is contradictory to any claim of deficient patient care."
     Armor Health has been the subject of at least a dozen lawsuits over the year in Brooklyn Federal Court.
     Armor's contract with Nassau County will end in the coming months, Schneiderman said Wednesday, and the company will not bid again for the contract.
     Nassau County has been withholding payments until it was satisfied Armor could prove that it is living up to the standards it offered to win the contract.
     The agreement went before the New York County Supreme Court on Wednesday. A phone call and e-mail sent Thursday morning to Schneiderman's team was not returned to shed light on whether it was approved.