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Inmate's medical bill could give taxpayers heart attack
Committee approves budget transfer of $150,000
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Warren County officials have agreed to transfer $150,000 into the jail budget to cover medical costs of an inmate who is undergoing treatment for a heart attack.
Sheriff Jackie Matheny informed members of the county’s Jail Oversight Committee last month that he expected bills to be considerable for an inmate who was transported to Saint Thomas Hospital following a heart attack.
“The police department brought in an inmate who was under the influence of some type of narcotic,” said Matheny. “He had fought officers, which led to his being brought to the jail. Within 24 hours, we had to send him to the hospital because he wasn’t coming around. He also started going into deep withdrawals. He ended up at Saint Thomas after suffering a heart attack. I expect a major hospital bill before this is over with.”
The law requires medical costs of inmates to be paid by the jurisdiction of the jail in which they are incarcerated. Because of this, it is common to release suspects on their own recognizance if it appears they may have a serious medical condition. Matheny said this person just appeared to be intoxicated.
“Sometimes we have them medically cleared first,” Matheny said. “This time we didn’t do that because this just looked like he was under the influence.”
Director of Accounts Linda Hillis says this will be a costly bill for the taxpayers to absorb.
“It is my understanding he has been on life support for awhile, so we will have some major expenses coming in,” said Hillis. “Jackie is worried that he won’t have enough in this year’s budget to cover the medical bills before next year’s budget is set.”
Matheny and Hillis reviewed the jail’s budget looking for something that could be used and found revenue in contracted prisoner boarding was more than what was projected when the budget for fiscal year 2012-13 was set.
The transfer of $150,000 from the jail’s contracted prisoner boarding budget into the jail’s medical fund was unanimously approved by Budget and Finance Committee members Herschel Wells, Terry Bell, Carl Bouldin, Ken Martin and Michael Martin.