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Arizona chooses new prison health contractor

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Department of Corrections said it has severed ties with a Pennsylvania company and has hired a new contractor to provide health services for all inmates in the state prison system.

The agency announced Wednesday that "unforeseeable challenges" have resulted in the termination of its contract with Wexford Health Sources Inc.

The agency said Corizon Inc., with operational headquarters in St. Louis, will take over March 4.

Corrections officials had criticized Wexford's performance in the past, but the company argued that it was hindered in part by a lack of cooperation from the state.

The legal director for ACLU of Arizona, Dan Pochoda, said there's no reason to think replacing Wexford with another for-profit contractor will solve what he called a crisis in Arizona's prisons.

The ACLU sued the Corrections Department last year, alleging that prisoners were getting inadequate care.

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