New York State officials have opened an investigation into whether Prison Health Services, which provides health care for more than 100,000 inmates each year in New York City jails, is violating state law governing medical services, the New York Times says. The State Department of Education, which regulates the practice of medicine, is examining the three-year, $300 million contract renewal the city signed in December with the firm.
The inquiry will determine whether the contract complies with a state rule that for-profit corporations providing medical services be owned and controlled by doctors. The law is intended to prevent business considerations, like maximizing profits, from influencing medical decisions. Prison Health executives and the city officials who oversee the company’s work say they believe that the contract is in compliance. The investigation marks a renewed effort by the Education Department. The state began to look into the Tennessee-based corporation in 2001, after several inmate deaths in upstate jails staffed by Prison Health began to draw criticism from the State Commission of Correction, which monitors jail conditions.