“Mental Health Advocate” Amy Kennedy Continues to Duck and Dodge Association with Corrupt Health Care Company
[May 27, 2020 – Longport, New Jersey] Amy Kennedy’s links to Wellpath continue to come under fire, as mounting information has now been publicly levied showcasing the company’s mental health practices, including depriving patients with mental illness of their psychotropic medication and lacking needed mental health services in a variety of locations around the country. Since first announcing as a candidate for Congress, Kennedy has made mental health the focal point of her campaign and has often sited this issue in her press releases and public appearances.
New reports have since surfaced that in Michigan where a statewide class action lawsuit has been filed against Wellpath for “establishing” and “maintaining” policies that deprive people of their prescription psychotropic medications upon intake into county jails, causing extremely dangerous and harmful discontinuity of care for detainee-inmates with known mental health conditions. And, as reported in Salon, Wellpath has “repeatedly come under fire” and “faced chronic criticism and litigation,” specifically citing that in New Orleans, the company was named in several wrongful death suits, including one that involved a 15-year-old African-American boy who hanged himself in jail after staffers allegedly ignored his need for antidepressants. Court testimony by a mental health monitor declared of Wellpath: “They house acutely ill inmates,” he said, “but they don't treat them.”
“For months now, we have all heard Amy Kennedy say one thing and do another,” stated Brigid Harrison, Democratic candidate for Congress (NJ-02). “Kennedy claims she wants to fight political corruption, yet she paid Atlantic City political boss and convicted criminal Craig Callaway’s for his endorsement. Now the self-proclaimed mental health advocate continues to reap the financial benefits from her association with Wellpath, even as some incredibly disturbing testimony has been shared regarding the company’s mental care practices.”
Wellpath, which has a clear and publicly reported pay-for-play history for using campaign contributions to secure government contracts, has bundled thousands of dollars to Amy Kennedy’s campaign for Congress, while at the same time, providing her husband, former Congressman Patrick Kennedy a Board seat, with an accompanying lucrative stipend. Wellpath’s long history of providing fatally poor care in immigration detention centers where ICE has locked up thousands of immigrants and substandard medical care to a network of for-profit prison, has been the subject of more than 70 wrongful death lawsuits and 1,395 federal lawsuits in over 120 locations in 32 states.
“Kennedy’s association to Wellpath is corrupt, plain and simple,” Harrison continued. “The company has a clear history of bribing elected officials – and the facts speak for themselves. In the first quarter of her political campaign, Kennedy has taken thousands in bundled Wellpath dollars, and her husband was appointed to the company’s Board. There is no place for Wellpath’s influence in South Jersey. It is time for Amy to come clean, tell the truth, and return her Wellpath money.”
In addition, to the new facts outlined in this press release, the following concerns and issues have been previously documented:
- In a broad news investigation, CNN’s watchdog unit has fully documented and reported some of Wellpath’s most controversial actions.
- In November 2018, Senator Elizabeth Warren and ten other United States Senators sent a letter to Mr. Dominics expressing concern about the poor medical conditions at the notorious Adelanto ICE Processing Center and highlighted a New York Times article that describes detainees staging hunger strikes in protest of their treatment.
- In December 2018, US Senator Kamala Harris and 23 members of the California congressional delegation sent a letter to the Acting Director of ICE expressing “strong concern about the conditions and oversight of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) immigration detention facilities,” including the Adelanto Center where Wellpath was the contracted health care provider.
- In New Jersey, Wellpath, which provides medical services for New Jersey’s Hudson County Jail, recently lost two nurses, members of ASFCME in April who both died of from complications of the coronavirus.
- In Miami, Florida, Wellpath has been blamed for a lack of COVID-19 testing and medical services related to its jail system in Broward County, which has been described as “horrific, with outrageous medical neglect, insufficient nutrition, unsanitary conditions.” Additional reports have also issued on Wellpath’s ill-fated response to COVID-19 being filed in Detroit and Santa Barbara.
- Wellpath has used campaign contributions to pay off elected officials who reward the company with lucrative government contracts.
- In Louisiana, Wellpath, then branded as Correct Care Solutions, was hired through a closed-door contract-awarding process that drew criticism from city officials and the New Orleans Office of Inspector General. The company’s practices at the Orleans Justice Center have since been cited in wrongful death lawsuits and in reports by a federally appointed team that monitors the jail as part of the consent decree.
- Fulton County, GA, terminated its contract with Wellpath after five people died within a span of 75 days in 2017.
- A lawsuit filed in May 2018 against the company alleged that in Douglas County, Nebraska more than a dozen people were denied medical treatment for serious ailments, including a stroke, a broken hip and lung cancer. According to the lawsuit, Wellpath’s contract with the county detention center created “perverse incentives” because the company “makes more money under the contract when they refuse to provide inmates with necessary medical care.”
- In August 2018, a video was released as part of a wrongful death lawsuit against Wellpath that showed a detainee at a Westchester, NY, county jail collapsing on the ground and being wheeled back to his cell in a wheelchair. He died soon after from a heart attack, and a state legislator concluded that “looking at this video, it would take more persuasion to get me to go along with the point of view that we should have CCS [Wellpath] or another for-profit entity running the medical department [inside the jail].”