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County extends inmate med care pact

2-year renewal termed a good buy

– The company that provides medical care to Allen County Jail inmates will do so for an additional two years after the county commissioners agreed Friday to extend the contract.

The agreement calls for the county to pay Professional Jail Medical Care LLC $15,467 a month or $185,000 a year to operate a medical clinic and provide a physician to inmates. The county hires additional nursing staff to assist the physician.

Sheriff Ken Fries said he has been happy with the company’s level of service. The contract extension, along with a new prescription drug company the jail is now using, is expected to save the county money in medical and drug costs for inmates in the next few years, Fries said.

The agreement includes a rate of $130 an hour for any doctor hours in excess of 10 a week. Fries said that has not been an issue.

The physician comes Monday through Friday for two hours a day and that has been sufficient, Fries said.

“The inmates know when he will be there, and they make it work during those hours,” Fries said. “We’ve had a very good working relationship with this company.”

Medical care costs for inmates have continued to spiral upward at a rapid rate, and Fries has said he believes some people might be committing crimes to get access to free medical care.

County officials want state lawmakers to change the laws regarding pre-existing conditions for inmates and relieve counties of the financial responsibility for those inmates who come into jail with serious health conditions.

Andrew Berger, a representative of the Indiana Association of Counties, said in a memo sent to The Journal Gazette that current state law requires counties to reimburse medical providers for medical costs for people in “lawful detention,” regardless of whether they have a pre-existing condition.

There is no specific language about pre-existing conditions, which can be included as part of health care services if those services are required while the inmate is detained, Berger said.

State law does dictate that inmates who are capable of paying for their own medical care do so.

But only a small percentage of inmates are financially responsible for their own medical costs, including those with health insurance or other means to pay, Fries said.