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Despite fines and failures, Texas contemplates more GEO Care contracts

Sunday's Austin American Statesman featured a front page story by Andrea Ball on fines being leveled against GEO Group's Montgomery County psych facility and plans to privatize a state mental hospital moving through an RFP process.  Here's the lead:

"Sixteen months after the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility opened in Conroe, the state's first publicly funded, privately run psychiatric hospital is facing at least $53,000 in state fines for serious shortcomings in patient care.

The private operator, Geo Care, is a subsidiary of Geo Group, a private prison company that has drawn attention in recent years because of deaths, riots and sexual abuse at some units in Texas and other states." ("As East Texas public-private psych facility struggles, state plans more privatization," July 21)

More disturbingly, the state is not considering pulling out of the contract with GEO, but actually privatizing a state mental health hospital.  According to Ball's article:

The problems come to light as the Department of State Health Services prepares to privatize one of the 10 public psychiatric hospitals it oversees. If Geo Care bids on the ongoing privatization effort — and it has expressed interest to public officials in doing so — its work in Montgomery County could be a harbinger of what taxpayers can expect if a for-profit company wins control of a public state hospital.

This week, the agency will accept bids from contractors seeking to run one of those facilities for at least 10 percent less than the current cost, a move that could save the state millions of dollars each year. If an offer is accepted, a private company could be running a state hospital by the end of the year.

We'll keep you posted on developments on the fight over privatizing a mental hospital in Texas. 

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