Thrasher objection stalls inmate medical bill

The St. Johns County local news desk reported earlier this month that a proposed Senate Bill (SB 218) will provide a great deal of savings for taxpayers by avoiding overpayment of medical care costs for arrested persons.

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 drop the cost of all inmate medical care, treatment, hospitalization, and transportation to the Medicaid rate for such expenditures by Sheriff’s Offices.

The bill was heard in the Senate Community Affairs Committee this week and Sheriff Jim Coats from Pinellas County spoke in support of the bill — touching on the magnitude of savings this legislation would bring to taxpayers.

The committee seemed supportive of the bill, until Senator John Thrasher emerged to speak in opposition to the bill. The Florida Hospital Association and the Florida College of Emergency Physicians also opposed the bill.

As was pointed out in a communication from Public Safety Advocate Sarrah Troncoso with the Florida Association of Counties, the same indigent individuals would qualify for the Medicaid rate if they weren’t arrested, so, why should local governments pay more?

Ultimately, Senator Garcia moved to temporarily postpone the bill until Senator Jones was present.

Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News contributed photograph

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