Health Care

Indiana prison medical chief works for private Illinois firm

 (AP file photo)

The chief medical officer for Indiana's prison system held an overlapping position with a for-profit Illinois company that provides health care to correctional facilities in more than a dozen states, according to a published report.

Dr. Michael Mitcheff worked for Peoria, Illinois-based Advanced Correctional Healthcare while also overseeing Indiana's prison health care contract with a competing company in his $234,000 state job, the South Bend Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2jPDwDW). Mitcheff is listed as "corporate medical director" on the Illinois company's website.

Indiana Department of Correction spokesman Doug Garrison acknowledged Mitcheff's overlapping jobs. He told the newspaper that dual employment is not prohibited and Mitcheff kept the department informed of his work with the competing vendor.

"Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) has not placed a bid for the (Indiana) inmate health care contract and is therefore not under consideration to be awarded such a contract," Garrison wrote in an emailed response to the newspaper's questions.

Garrison said Mitcheff is no longer working full time for the state, having switched from full time to intermittent employment. As of Jan. 16, Mitcheff is now being paid by the hour, Garrison said. Mitcheff is assisting the department in a search for a full-time medical director. In December, Mitcheff resigned from his state post, then weeks later rescinded that resignation for personal reasons, the Tribune reported.

Mitcheff worked in the private correctional health care sector prior to his work in Indiana government and, in his government position, has been overseeing a contract for a company for which he'd worked.

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Indiana contracts for inmate health care with Tennessee-based Corizon Health, Mitcheff's employer until 2014. Under Mitcheff, Indiana recently gave the company a three-month extension on a three-year $300 million contract. Mitcheff has been in his Indiana government position since July 2015, the newspaper reported.

Mitcheff did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. The newspaper reported in June that Mitcheff's medical license was suspended in 1998 for prescribing addictive painkillers for his personal use. After resolving his licensing issues by going through a monitoring program that included drug screening, he became a prison doctor.

"It was a good transition back" to medicine, he told the Tribune in June, "and it worked out well. (Addiction) has given me the background to better understand the patient in the population I'm dealing with as well."