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NIFA board OKs Nassau's extension of jail health care contract with NUMC

A view of Nassau University Medical Center in

A view of Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow in 2011. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority approved a $10.5 million, six-month contract extension between Nassau County and Nassau University Medical Center to provide health care to inmates at the county jail in East Meadow.

NIFA's board voted 6-0 to extend the two-year contract that expired Aug. 31. The county and NUMC are negotiating a longer-term pact, according to legislative documents.

The county Legislature approved the six-month contract on July 15; contracts of $5 million or more need the approval of NIFA's board.

In January, Nassau sought health providers that could offer the services over the long-term. But officials concluded it was in the county's best interest to develop a new contract with NuHealth, the public benefit corporation that runs NUMC, according to legislative documents.

NUMC is located next to the jail campus in East Meadow.

Under the terms of the contract, Nassau is to pay all costs associated with health care at the jail, as well as an administrative fee of $3 million, or 16.7 percent of the total annual cost to provide health care at the jail, whichever is greater. The county also pays NuHealth a monthly fee of $1.5 million for the service.

Nassau County legislators approved the two-year, $42 million pact with NuHealth in July 2017 after cutting ties with Armor Correctional Health Services, a Florida-based for-profit company.

Armor provided inadequate health care in at least eight of the 14 Nassau inmate deaths that occurred during the company's tenure, the New York State Commission of Correction found.

The oversight agency found that Armor was “incapable of providing competent medical care.” 

The county entered into a public-private partnership with Armor in 2011, part of a bid to save the county money. Former County Executive Edward Mangano picked the hospital after no qualified private companies expressed interest in succeeding Armor. 

Also Tuesday, NIFA approved its annual budget and a whistleblower policy allowing employees to report credible claims of misconduct. 

NIFA Executive Director Evan Cohen said Nassau could incur a $76 million deficit in 2019. Cohen said the projection does not account for the potential cost of new labor agreements between Nassau and its five major labor unions. The contracts expired at the end of 2017 and negotiations are underway.

Cohen said that there are other significant unfavorable budget variances that could impact the deficit, highlighting issues with revenue projections from fines, forfeitures, sale of county properties and sales tax.

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