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Correctional Health Care Company Corizon Slow To Pay Gilbert Hospital

Emails show Corizon Health owed more than $1.2 million for more than a year to Gilbert Hospital. The late payment could be affecting prisoners’ access to care.

In federal court this week, attorneys for inmates in a prison health care settlement with the state expressed concerns that the state's private contractor is behind on its bills.

Corizon Health is contracted by the Department of Corrections to handle health care needs for inmates in Arizona prisons. When those needs go beyond what can be done at clinics in the prisons, inmates are often taken to outside hospitals to see a specialist.

RELATED: To hear an interview wiht KJZZ's Jimmy Jenkins on The Show, click here.

Arizona Department of Corrections emails that plaintiffs' counsel presented in court this week showed an administrator at Gilbert Hospital had to repeatedly asked for payment from Corizon Health for more than a year for services exceeding a $1.2 million.  The services were provided at Florence Hospital at Anthem.

Corene Kendrick is an attorney for the inmates. She says the late payments could make it even harder for prisoners to get proper access to care.

“If Corizon is not paying the specialists, and the specialists are refusing to see the patients, they’re not getting the specialty care that they need and that is required by the settlement agreement,” Kendrick said.

In an email requesting payment, a Gilbert Hospital administrator said Corizon’s debt affected “elective radiology and other elective outpatient services.”

“Corizon has not acted in good faith by paying for these services per the AZ prompt payment guidelines. I continue to have to constantly follow up and literally beg you for payment of our bills,” the administrator wrote.

ADC Assistant Director Richard Pratt testified that Corizon paid their previous debt to the hospital but said he recently learned of new debts incurred by the company.

Access to specialty care is one of the areas where the Department of Corrections is non-compliant with performances measures established by a federal court in the case.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.