Commission OK’s inmate medical program

By ED HOWELL, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 10/17/17

The Walker County Commission voted Monday to approve a contract with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) to implement an association …

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Commission OK’s inmate medical program

Posted

The Walker County Commission voted Monday to approve a contract with the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA) to implement an association program that will reduce the county’s medical costs for prisoners at the Walker County Jail.

The commission indicated earlier it would participate in the program, which was cleared thanks to a state bill passed earlier this year. If an inmate is in hospitalized as an inpatient for more than 24 hours, the patient’s Medicaid benefits can be reinstated. County officials will reimburse the Medicaid Agency the full amount of any federally required state match.

The ACCA will participate as a centralized source on behalf of counties to provide information to the Medicaid agency on the qualifications of prisoners each county case.

The program, called the Medicaid for County Inmate Program, will start on Jan. 1.

County Administrator Cheryl Ganey said Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood had signed off on the program.

Underwood said recently the jail normally has to pay about $400,000 to $450,000 a year for inmate medical care.

About $158,000 of overall budget overspending in the Sheriff’s Office and the county jail was recently documented to medical care, Underwood said. For Fiscal 2017, a total of $458,000 had been spent as of Sept. 1 on inmate care, with one month to go in the year.

County officials said inmates in some cases have resulted in individual bills of up to $500,000 to the county, some of which had to be negotiated down.

A separate agreement has also been reached with Walker Baptist Medical Center to also try to reduce inmate medical bills, county officials said recently.

District 4 County Commissioner Steven Aderholt said Monday the agreement with the ACCA amounted to a savings to taxpayers, as the county is required by law to pay for inmate healthcare. He said it is a “less direct impact to local taxpayers” and more spread out with federal authorities. Davis also thanked Underwood for his cooperation, noting the county’s tight budget.

In other action, the commission:

•heard from County Engineer Mike Short that the bridge work on Country Club Bridge is completed, although it would not be opened to traffic until an inspection is done within the next couple of days.

•heard from Short that some annual bids would be coming up, with most to be opened in November. “I think we are going to renew everything we can unless someone tells me something different and then bid the items at their limit of three years,” which includes fuel and liquid asphalt, he said.

•approved hardware support contracts for the commission office and solid waste. The contracts are with OnPoint DMS of Jasper, amounting to $3,000 for the solid waste office and $6,500 for the commission office.

•approved an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation, which approved the county’s grant application for ClasTran’s public transportation service.

•voted in favor of adding two holidays that Gov. Kay Ivey has added to the state calendar, which the Civil Service Handbook calls for following but which the commission also must approve.

Ivey added the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, Nov. 24, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Ganey said the 2018 calendar has not come out yet, but the governor was going ahead to release the New Year’s holiday.