MODESTO -- A medical group that provided health care in Stanislaus County jails for 20 years will start seeing inmates again in March.
Stanislaus County supervisors on Tuesday approved a five-year contract with California Forensic Medical Group, replacing a contract with a company that told the county in July that it wanted out.
Starting March 1, the county will pay a base amount of $711,838 a month to California Forensic of Monterey, with 3.5 percent annual increases built into the agreement. The county is required by law to provide medical and mental health services to the 1,450 inmates in the men's jail, public safety center, honor farm and juvenile hall.
California Forensic performed the services for 20 years before the county considered other proposals in 2009 and awarded the contract to Tennessee-based California Correct Care Solutions.
The medical group will receive $100 more per inmate compared with the county contract with Correct Care. The Tennessee group told the county six months ago that it wanted to end its contract two years early.
Correct Care cited "numerous challenges" from the start of the contract, as well as changes to state law regarding health care for inmates. Its problems included being placed on six months' probation in 2010 while it corrected "significant operational concerns," including running through five administrators in its first 14 months.
Sheriff Adam Christianson, elected in 2006, took $5,800 in campaign contributions from six Correct Care executives 17 months later. His department in 2009 helped select that company's offer for services.
The county asked former health services director Margaret Szczepaniak to help with the process of choosing a provider to replace Correct Care. Szczepaniak works for San Joaquin County.
The monthly payments to Correct Care have been $660,390, not counting $3,000 to $4,000 monthly for mental health medications for juvenile offenders. The contract with California Forensic includes all medications. The county will pay $40,000 to California Correct Care during the transition.
County officials expect to negotiate an amendment to the contract when they get closer to a 456-bed expansion of the adult detention facilities. The agreement can be adjusted if federal health reforms provide reimbursements to counties for inmate health care, said Stan Risen, assistant executive officer.
Even without the jail expansion, inmate health care is expected to cost the county more than $10 million annually by 2017.
On another item, supervisors are expecting a lawsuit after an attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance urged them to challenge a state Department of Finance decision that required the county to give up $10 million in former redevelopment funds.
Attorney Juan Carlos Cancino strongly implied that if the county does not pursue legal action against the state, CRLA will sue the county for breaking a 1991 agreement to commit the funds to affordable housing. The funds were earmarked for housing through an agreement with CRLA when a redevelopment program was approved 21 years ago.
Cancino said agencies have had success using the courts to contest state actions to take funds under the laws that abolished redevelopment agencies last February. He said that, unfortunately, a lawsuit against the county was the only way to protect the interests of CRLA clients.
County board Chairman Vito Chiesa replied, "You are asking us to sue and clearly I'm hearing overtones that you will sue us if we don't sue. That is sad."
The successor agency to the county's defunct redevelopment agency appealed the state's November determination that the funds for affordable housing were not restricted, but state officials confirmed the decision Dec. 15. County officials said they were forced to distribute the funds to districts early this month or face losing tax revenue.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.