Proposed bill limits county inmate medical costs

Public Safety Advocate Sarrah Troncoso with the Florida Association of Counties reported to the St. Johns County local news desk at Historic City News that while counties are making cutbacks at every level, the Florida legislature may have some help for county sheriff’s — including David Shoar.

Counties and Sheriffs are required to provide medical services to persons who have been charged with a crime, or are being held in county detention facilities. We are not just talking about band-aids and aspirin, either. Dental emergencies, stroke or heart attack could all be the responsibility of St. Johns County taxpayers.

The proposed Senate Bill 218 and companion House Bill 319 would reduce expenditures by Sheriff’s Offices to the Medicaid rate for all inmate medical care, treatment, hospitalization, and transportation.

Current law states that when no contract exists between a county detention facility and a third party provider, that third party may seek reimbursement from the county’s general fund.

Taxpayers end up responsible for paying full fee rates to providers for person who would otherwise receive indigent rates.

In the current climate of increasing healthcare costs, taxpayers should not be left to pay for excessive costs to third party providers.

Last year, the Legislature passed similar language for the Department of Corrections and we at Historic City News hope they will extend the same courtesy to Boards of County Commissioners this year.

This issue is scheduled for a committee hearing on January 19, 2010 in the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

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