February 14, 2024

Warren, Markey Urge Massachusetts Department of Correction to Carefully Review Corizon and Wellpath Bids and Maximize Accountability of Health Services Provider in State Prisons

Wellpath and Corizon submitted intents to bid to become the next health contractor with Mass DoC and have both come under intense criticism for their failure to provide adequate care to patients.

“We hope you will carefully consider the congressional oversight findings as you move forward with your decision, and we trust that you will implement robust measures to monitor the performance of the contractor that you select.”

Text of Letter to Massachusetts Department of Corrections (PDF)
Responses from Wellpath (PDF) | Responses from Corizon (Tehum and YesCare) (PDF)
Wellpath Oversight Letters (PDF) | Corizon Oversight Letters (PDF)

Washington, D.C.  – As the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DoC) began the process of evaluating bidders to provide health services to its network of prisons, U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Massachusetts DoC Commissioner Carol Mici, urging her to carefully review  the track records of Wellpath and YesCare (“Corizon”), which are possible bidders to become the next healthcare provider for Massachusetts prisons. The senators also pushed the DoC to impose strong monitoring and accountability measures on any contractor selected.

“Regardless of which bidder is ultimately selected, the DoC should employ robust oversight mechanisms to ensure the contractor provides an adequate standard of care,” Senators Warren and Markey wrote. “This must include staffing a sufficient number of qualified health providers, following physician treatment plans, promptly responding to incarcerated individuals’ requests for medical attention, providing appropriate mental health care, and ensuring that incarcerated patients can access advanced medical care in a timely fashion outside of the facility when needed.” 

While the final list of bidders has not been made public, Wellpath and Corizon, among others, submitted intents to bid. Both companies have come under intense criticism for their failure to provide adequate care and for neglecting patients, and have been the subject of congressional oversight inquiries. 

“We hope you will carefully consider the congressional oversight findings as you move forward with your decision, and we trust that you will implement robust measures to monitor the performance of the contractor that you select,” Senators Warren and Markey concluded. 

DoC’s contract with its current prison healthcare provider is set to expire in June 2024, with the selection of a bidder for the new contract set to be completed by the end of March 2024.

Senator Warren has long fought to hold big corporations accountable for harms to individuals, to combat abuses of the bankruptcy system, and to improve health care for incarcerated people:

  • On February 1, 2024, Senator Warren sent a letter to Tara Twomey, Director of the Executive Office for United States Trustees, and Kevin M. Epstein, U.S. Trustee for the Southern and Western Districts of Texas, raising concerns about the abuse of the bankruptcy system by Corizon and urging the U.S. Trustee to: promptly assess the merits of asking the judge to dismiss Corizon’s bankruptcy; oppose the new bankruptcy plan on the basis that it provides plainly insufficient recovery for victims and includes nonconsensual non-debtor releases (among other issues); and continue to ensure victims are adequately represented and provided proper notice to assert their rights.
  • In December 2023, Senator Warren and other lawmakers urged the Department of Justice and the U.S. Marshals Service to stop detaining individuals in private jails.
  • In October 2023, Senators Warren and Durbin, along with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sent a letter to Corizon condemning its use of the Texas Two-Step to evade liability and requesting greater transparency surrounding the company’s bankruptcy.
  • In May 2021, Senators Warren, and other lawmakers wrote to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, asking him to use new funding authorized by Congress in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and his authority under the Public Health Service Act to take immediate and aggressive action to help manage COVID-19 outbreaks in federal, state, and local correctional facilities.
  • In March 2021, Senators Warren, Booker, and Durbin sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General urging it to conduct a comprehensive review of all COVID-19-related deaths of incarcerated individuals in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and BOP staff since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • In January 2021, Senator Warren sent a letter to Genesis Healthcare, Inc. (Genesis), one of the nation's largest nursing home chains and the possible owner of YesCare, asking why its top executives, including its recently retired former CEO, have received millions of dollars in bonuses after more than 2,800 of their residents died of COVID-19 and despite the fact that the company has accepted $300 million in taxpayer-funded aid.
    • In March 2021, Senator Warren released Genesis’s response to her January 2021 letter and sent a letter to the company, revealing new information that the company’s CEO — who left the company in near bankruptcy in January 2021 — has been awarded $8 million in salary and bonuses since the start of the pandemic. Senator Warren raised new questions about why the company lavishly rewarded its CEO after more than 2,800 of its residents died of COVID-19 and despite the fact that he left the company in dire financial conditions. 
  • In December 2020, Senator Warren released the findings of the May 2019 investigation she opened into the American Correctional Association (ACA) — the nation's largest accreditor of prisons and immigration detention Facilities — and its relationship with the three largest private prison companies that receive ACA accreditation: CoreCivic, GEO Group, and Management & Training Corporation.