ManarINAPresser 03282017Too many questions exist about Wexford Health Sources’ oversight of health care in Illinois prisons, which is reason enough for Gov. Bruce Rauner to cease efforts to outsource prison nurses to the Pennsylvania corporation, Senator Andy Manar said Tuesday.

Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat, is co-sponsoring a bipartisan plan to stop the governor from outsourcing additional medical and mental health service jobs from state prisons. Senator Sam McCann (R-Plainview) also is a co-sponsor of the plan.

“Given the scrutiny we’ve seen of Wexford’s performance during its lucrative contract with the state of Illinois – and given Gov. Rauner’s inclination to outsource every union job he possibly can – I am again proposing that we restrict the state’s ability to privatize medical and mental health services in state prisons,” Manar said.

Senate Bill 19 would protect 322 state employees who provide such services for the Illinois Department of Corrections, including 150 nurses who are members of the Illinois Nurses Association and 172 medical technicians and mental health professionals who are members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union.

A similar plan sponsored by Manar during the last legislative session was vetoed by the governor. The House was unable to override the veto.

Wexford Health Sources is a private for-profit corporation based in Pennsylvania that provides health care services to prisons all over the country. In 2011, Gov. Pat Quinn inked a 10-year, $1.4 billion contract with the company to provide health care in all Illinois prisons.

In 2015, a scathing report blasted sweeping problems with the quality of medical care offered to Illinois inmates by Wexford and cited numerous examples of neglect or insufficient treatment. The report, filed in federal court as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit, alleged problems ranging from unqualified and incompetent doctors and nurses to improper record-keeping and sanitation.

“In his quest to bust unions, Gov. Rauner is potentially opening up Illinois to additional expensive lawsuits,” Manar said. “Given Wexford’s questionable history of offering substandard care while taxpayers foot the $1.4 billion bill, I think it would be best to put the brakes on further outsourcing of medical professionals for the time being.”

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