Audit: Health costs over budget for Vt. inmates

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Spending on health care for Vermont in-state prisoners was $4.2 million over budget for the last three years, according to a report by State Auditor Doug Hoffer.

The audit report on a Department of Corrections contract with health care contractor Correct Care Solutions, released Monday, concluded the department’s “cost monitoring was not robust during the earlier years of the contract, but has improved since late 2012.”

Dr. Delores Burroughs-Biron, the health services director for the Department of Corrections, didn’t dispute that the contract wasn’t overseen as carefully as it could have been in the early years, but said the health care provided inmates never suffered.

“Overall, we agree that in terms of the monitoring early on, it could have been more intense or robust,” she said.

The audit found that in fiscal year 2012, the department housed an average daily population of 1,583 in-state inmates, which included both sentenced offenders and detainees. The state budgeted $49.1 million for the three-year contract but eventually paid $53.3 million, including a $4.7 million management fee.

For complex health cases performed outside the prisons, the contract requires Correct Care to determine if an inmate has health insurance, including Medicaid, and, if applicable, pursue collection on behalf of the state. But in one case, Medicaid was not billed for an inmate hospitalization and Corrections paid the $84,000 bill.

The audit found that Correct Care met some of its performance standards and was deficient in others, with no apparent pattern.

“DOC’s failure to levy contractually allowed penalties for two years represented a lost opportunity for the State to offer a monetary incentive for CCS to correct its deficiencies in a timely manner,” Hoffer said in a news release.

But since October 2012, after the department hired someone to monitor the contract, there have been substantial improvements.

The initial three-year contract expired earlier this year and it was extended two more years, Burroughs-Biron said.

Officials with the Vermont office of Correct Care Solutions did not return a call Monday seeking comment.

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