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Legal victory for state will mean job uncertainty for prison health care workers

The nation’s largest outsourcing of prison medical care is finally underway in Florida with the state turning to a private company with a history of problems in other states.

Corizon Inc. of Brentwood, Tenn., plans to start work Aug. 1 after Florida won a two-year legal fight with a public employee union that accused the Legislature of illegally seeking to privatize health care in most prisons by steering the decision to a 14-member Legislative Budget Commission.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and a second union representing physicians and dentists won the first round in circuit court. The state prevailed in the First District Court of Appeal, where a three-judge panel upheld the right of the commission to approve a budget transfer for the project and ruled that the prison system has “broad authority” under law to contract for services.

The decision rescued Corizon’s $230 million contract and gives Gov. Rick Scott another opportunity to show how the state workforce continues to shrink on his watch.

Corrections Secretary Mike Crews has sent letters to 1,756 employees, notifying them that Corizon will take over all health care in prisons in north and central Florida. Story here.