Inmates paying for health care not helping much, sheriffs say

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WAYCROSS, Ga. -- Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal might be mistaken for running a mini-hospital.

The county jail averages 348 inmates daily. Its head nurse and six licensed practical nurses provide medical care to the inmates, many of whom suffer from chronic illnesses.

“We have 200 inmates currently getting prescription medication ranging from blood pressure to psychotropic drugs for mental health conditions,” Royal said.

Many don’t have insurance or other financial means to pay for their health care. That means, under law, taxpayers must foot the bill. Funding to meet that requirement, however, is in short supply statewide.

It’s a conundrum confronting sheriffs and state prison officials throughout Georgia.

A law signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue on April 21 has good intentions but offers limited help, Royal and other Southeast Georgia sheriffs said.

The reimbursement measure is intended to help offset medical costs for inmates able to pay. It allows state and county corrections officials to deduct money from an inmate’s account to pay for some of their medical costs.

If inmates have at least $10 in their accounts, officials have the authority to deduct money to pay for medical treatment and prescription medicine for injuries the inmates inflicts on themselves or others. Authorities can’t deduct money from inmates diagnosed with a severe mental condition at the time the injuries occurred.

The law also excludes costs related to pregnancy or chronic illnesses including cancer, kidney disease, pulmonary illness, diabetes, hepatitis C, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis or autoimmune disorders. Those expenses still will be borne by the county or state, according to the measure.

“I see no immediate benefits from this law for us,” Royal said. “The people we typically deal with have no insurance and few if any financial resources with which to pay.”

Nonetheless, Royal said “we’ll definitely be looking for ways this law can help us.”

When booked, every Ware jail inmate undergoes a health screening and is checked for infectious diseases before being placed in the general population.

Medical care is available to inmates 24 hours a day, he said.

Its inmate medical costs totaled $781,344 last fiscal year. That cost averaged $6.39 per inmate per day, Royal said.

As of Wednesday, he said, they’ve spent $640,182 for inmate medical care this fiscal year, which began July 1.

Ware inmates are receiving medical care for conditions ranging from pregnancy and diabetes to high blood pressure and HIV, he said.

Camden County Sheriff Tommy Gregory faces a similar situation. He’s budgeted slightly more than $300,000 for inmates’ medical care this year. Gregory plans to use the reimbursement law as much as possible.

“We’re going to try to recoup any inmate health care costs that we can on behalf of the taxpayers,” he said.

Gregory said he will seek that reimbursement from inmates’ insurance, if they have it, or their account.

Because the measure is new, the sheriffs haven’t worked out the details of implementing the reimbursements.

“Any way we can make people pay their fair share and save the taxpayers money, I’m all for it,” Gregory said.

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lawyerdude
29
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lawyerdude 05/04/09 - 06:46 am
0
0
It costs more in

It costs more in administrative time and effort to go through all the measley inmate accounts to find the 15-20 bucks the search will yield. If Perdue wants to save real money in health costs, stop incarcerating the poor and the sick. I will be glad when he leaves office.

sassygalady30
1
Points
sassygalady30 05/04/09 - 06:51 am
0
0
if they have money n there

if they have money n there accounts means they have family have them help pay the bills.gonna be alot of empty accounts.if there n jail they r there because a crime .do really think they wanna pay a bill.no,they will just have there family bring what they need keep there account empty in let the taxpayers keep paying for there sorry [filtered word]es

spdermn78
4
Points
spdermn78 05/04/09 - 07:35 am
0
0
lawyerdude you are a clown.

lawyerdude you are a clown. Stop incarcerating the poor and the sick?? what do you suppose we do. Criminals are from all walks of life.. Rich, middle class and poor.. bottom line they commit a crime you pay the price. Lets see how liberal you are the next time someone sticks a gun in your face and robs you of what you worked hard to get. I bet you would change your tree hugging mind.

rufus
2
Points
rufus 05/04/09 - 07:49 am
0
0
Looks like justus changed his

Looks like justus changed his handle

AAQueen
18
Points
AAQueen 05/04/09 - 08:26 am
0
0
I think the states should

I think the states should CONTINUE to pay. Look at it llike this: more than likely the state is already giving them some type of money. When they are locked up (30 to 60 days) that money do not stop. They have a family member hold on to it until they are released. This money should go to the jail. Another idea is to not release them until their bill is paid.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/04/09 - 08:31 am
0
0
We can't excuse crimes

We can't excuse crimes committed simply because a person is sick or poor that is an ignorant solution to this problem........

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 05/04/09 - 09:00 am
0
0
Question: If someone is or

Question: If someone is or has been receiving monthly SS payments does that continue if they are incarcerated? Furthermore, if Medicare is deducted from their SS payment does that accrue over the time they are in jail?

Robcat75
8
Points
Robcat75 05/04/09 - 10:27 am
0
0
mgroothand, In re your answer

mgroothand, In re your answer NO inmates of jails nor prisons are entilteled to any checks from SS or SSI. They are their payees are suppose to notify SS, In fact there is a system set up through the state that also identifies an inmate on these checks when they are found they are also stoped. A prisoner can only get it if he had and was sentenced under a medical condition of Mental Illness. I know this because I have son in prison for head butting a police car ( sentenced for 2 yrs, for damage to Gov. Property.) He has seizers and they take money out of his acct. He does not get SSI Nor SS any more while there.

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 05/04/09 - 10:54 am
0
0
Medical care available 24/7 ?

Medical care available 24/7 ? Hmmm, prison is looking better and better. When the feds socialize medicine we will be waiting 2 months for an appointment to be screened to see if we are statistically viable to receive medical care. How's the food in prison? Do they still get cable? What the law should have done is not only take any money they have in their account, but also continue to deduct the cost of medical care from any future welfare, SS, SSI, or any other government check they might be "entitiled" to after they are released. Most of these folks will be on the government dole forever so I payment plan could be implemented.

latosha_5
0
Points
latosha_5 05/04/09 - 11:23 am
0
0
AAQueen, i like your

AAQueen, i like your thinking...keep those suckers locked up until their bill is paid! or how bout they just don't get treatment...would they get if they were not in jail? and personally, they lost their rights when they proved they could not positively contribute to our society...

Tots
25729
Points
Tots 05/04/09 - 12:16 pm
0
0
Mad MaI liked the last part

Mad MaI liked the last part of your letter.But I have Insurance and still have to wait a month are longer to be seen.They will tell you to come in and wait to see if they can get to you.Takes all day.So if my tax money is already paying for so many people to get free medical care I wont it also.The only thing wrong with free health care is the insurance companys and drug companys dont wont you to break free from them.They own us and a large part of our government.I'm not the scared little child.Dont push your prooaganda about how socilised heath care wont work.It does and has worked in other countrys. Free the doctors from all the insurance companys.Let them get back to careing for the sick.Please everbody do some research.Dont beleave what your parents and meda told you.They also told us to hide under our desk if the Russians droped a bomb on us.Guess they wonted us to kiss our a-ws goodbye.Just think of allthe laughs they had on us.I think I'm better than the people in jail or the ones that dont work and pay taxes.I wont free heath care IwontitIwontitIwontit NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

overburdened_taxpayer
116
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 05/04/09 - 03:52 pm
0
0
Unless that Sheriff is

Unless that Sheriff is running a correctional facility instead of a detention center he can use Georgia Law 42-4-71 which does not have the chronic illness clause.

DEVGRU
0
Points
DEVGRU 05/04/09 - 05:13 pm
0
0
Those with serious mental

Those with serious mental health problems should be housed in a mental health facility. Law enforcement personnel are not psychiatrists and don't want to be. In many cases mental illness is what causes one to be arrested. But, I guess if we fill up the mental health facilities they will be overcrowded and the jails won't have enough prisoners. It's called a mess.

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