HOUSTON COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — A new contract between the Houston County Commission and the Health Care Authority Board has raised some issues with one commissioner.
By law, the Houston County Commission is required to pay for inmate medical expenses. However, Houston County District four Commissioner, Brandon Shoupe says historically they have not been billed for those healthcare expenses, and he wants to know why they need to start being billed now.
“If someone were to come to me with a great argument as to why this is critical, that the medical center start getting paid for indigence care for indigents coming out of the jail, I mean I might be convinced that it’s the best thing for the community,” Shoupe said.
The commissioners and hospital board have agreed the prices the county will pay will be at Medicare rates, and Shoupe said his main concern is the county taking on new expenses.
“Maybe I should have reached out more in the past before we got to this point but just to suddenly start getting invoices and invoices for, you know, full price care,” Shoupe said. “I was holding one invoice today, and it was $63,500. I mean, we get enough of those? I mean, this county’s bankrupt.”
Shoupe said that he’s been told the county’s $2.5 million property tax doesn’t cover the cost of indigent care.
“Again, I would just like to have more information as to way this is critical to the medical center’s bottom line,” Shoupe said. “You know, if they’re at risk for closing if we do this, by all means, you know, we’ll pay it because that is in the best interest of this community.”
Some relief could come if inmates have their own insurance. However, most do not.