Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Prisoner medical co-pay proposed


Warren Co. could save $100,000/year

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON - Prisoners in the Warren County Jail may be paying to receive health care in the future.

Warren County Commissioners Pat South and Larry Crisenbery on Tuesday agreed the county should look into implementing an inmate co-pay system. The co-pay could save the county close to $100,000 a year, according to Jeffrey Reasons, president of Southern Health Partners.

Commissioner Mike Kilburn was not at the work session.

"It's not designed to raise a lot of money," Reasons said. "It's designed to discourage frivolous nurse visits."

Southern Health Partners was hired this year to provide health care at the jail and juvenile detention center after commissioners expressed concern over a 60 percent increase in health costs under the previous provider. The Tennessee-based company will provide services beginning Jan. 1.

Other county jails, including Clermont County's, have inmate co-pay systems in place. Typically, it would cost a prisoner $5 to see a nurse, $10 to see a physician and $3 for prescriptions, Reasons said.

He said inmates would not be refused treatment if they couldn't pay.

The Warren County Jail has a capacity of 191 general prisoners.

Because charges could be implemented several different ways, county and health-care officials will meet to decide what is best for Warren's jail. Commissioners also want the county prosecutor's office to check into the matter.

"If I can save 100 grand for my taxpayers, I'm going to do it," Crisenbery said. "After all, we're not running a Hilton over there."

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com




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