Count us among those wondering at the efficacy of paying, by some accounts, $1 million-a-month to a Nashville-based company with a heavy corrections background to manage the Alaska Psychiatric Institute – and doing so without a competitive process, public hearings or legislative input.
It even appears legislators were left in the dark about the Dunleavy administration’s decision to allow Wellpath Recovery Solutions to assume administrative control of the troubled facility.
We are not fans of no-bid contracts. They are anathema to open and transparent government, and, because of that, automatically raise questions. Awarding government work on a no-bid basis is poor public policy.
We are, apparently, not alone in our concern.
“Some legislators have raised concerns about the Department issuing a no-bid contract to a company that’s been sued hundreds of times and accused of causing multiple deaths,” Alaska Public Media reports.
“Wellpath is a merger between Correct Care Solutions and Correctional Medical Group,” the news organization reported. “Correct Care Solutions has been the defendant in nearly 1,400 federal lawsuits since 2003, according to court documents obtained by the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight and news reports. The company primarily manages health programs inside prisons and is blamed for multiple inmate deaths.”
The problem-plagued institution currently is under investigation by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which found more than 80 substantial deficiencies from July to December. Fewer than half its 80 beds are in use, and it is badly understaffed, with key management posts vacant. That it is in trouble is unarguable.
Ostensibly, the state’s arrangement with Wellpath is for a period of six months, with an opportunity for the company to assume further control after July 1.
If a contract is to be let in July, it should be after public hearings, thorough legislative vetting and a competitive process. If not, nothing good will come of it.