Maryland officials ran out of time to pick a new contractor to provide medical care in state prisons, so they’re extending the current contract with a troubled, for-profit company.

For the next three months, YesCare will continue to provide medical care to people who are incarcerated in prisons across the state and a jail complex in Baltimore.

YesCare was created out of the controversial bankruptcy of Corizon Health, which was awarded the medical care contract with the state five years ago.

The company has been paid hundreds of millions of dollars, even as the quality of its care has come under scrutiny from an independent monitor and dozens of medical malpractice lawsuits have been filed in Maryland and other states.

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YesCare’s contract is due to end on Sunday, but the state did not start the process of soliciting bidders for a new contract until late in the year. Bids from interested companies were due earlier this week.

With the bids under review, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services extended the contract with YesCare for three more months.

Mark Vernarelli, a department spokesman, said the state hadn’t yet spent all the money that was set aside for the contract, so that money — $48.7 million — will be used on the extension.

The contract was slated to cost the state $680 million over the five-year period but was modified over the years up to a maximum of about $715 million.

The state also enacted a three-month contract extension for a company that provides mental health care to incarcerated people, Centurion Health. The state’s use of Centurion’s services “has been less than the originally estimated amounts,” so $15.5 million is still available to send to Centurion, according to the extension.

Going forward, the state plans to reorganize its contracts, seeking a provider that can provide both medical care and mental health care to people in custody. There will be two separate contracts: One for state prisons and one for a state-run jail and pre-release complex in Baltimore.

Pamela Wood covers Maryland politics and government. She previously reported for The Baltimore Sun, The Capital and other Maryland newspapers. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park, she lives in northern Anne Arundel County. 

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