Commission accepts $90M jail healthcare contract - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Commission accepts $90M jail healthcare contract

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DOWNTOWN MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Monday afternoon the Shelby County Commission accepted a five-year, $90 million contract for jail healthcare.

The $90 million bid, the biggest contract the commission has ever approved, was the only bid submitted to the commission.

The the five-year contract will break down to more than $18 million a year. Health services will be provided to the jail, corrections, and the juvenile court -- part of the contract was already approved.
 
The vote to approve the contact narrowly passed as many on the commission were upset that only one company bid for such a lucrative contact. Commission Mike Ritz said County Mayor Mark Luttrell's office did that on purpose.
 
"Had huge requirements most of the contractors could not meet," Commissioner Ritz said. "Oh mercy, the only company that could meet these standards is the one that's already got it. Isn't that interesting? And here we are."

The Luttrell administration said it did not intentionally alienate other bidders saying they reached out to 32 companies. But only the current healthcare provider responded.

Also during the session, county officials said they will not see to continue the Head Start program and it is unclear if the merged Shelby County Schools will seek contract.

Mayor Luttrell said the school system has not decided if it will try to take over Head Start. Porter-Leath Children's Center is expected to make a bid to take over Head Start, the mayor added.

With the county expected to get out of Head Start, about 600 people will be laid of from county government. The hope with the 600 pending layoffs is that these employees will be hired on by whatever entity will take over the Head Start program.

Mayor Luttrell told the commission that Porter-Leath will apply for the federal grant for the program. SCS, though undecided is expected to apply for the grant as well.

Some on the commission said this should be about the children, not the adults. Still, those employees are not happy about the change.

"They recently just became vested in this pension plan and it took them 7.5 years," said Gail Tyree of AFSCME. "Now we think it's a little unfair that they won't get an opportunity to stay under the Shelby County pension plan because now they have to start over."

"That's why we're here at this point right now, that it wasn't being run right," said Commissioner Terry Roland. "So anybody would want what's best for the children."

The deadline to bid on running Head Start is later this month.

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