Madison County Sheriff's Office, Huntsville Hospital make new agreement to treat inmates

The sheriff's office says medical treatment for inmates is the biggest expense the jail has.

Posted: Jun 12, 2019 6:25 PM
Updated: Jun 13, 2019 6:52 AM

The Madison County Sheriff's Office and Huntsville Hospital have reached an agreement that will save taxpayer dollars. The Madison County Commission approved a deal where the sheriff's office pays a fixed rate for inmates to receive hospital services. The sheriff's office says medical treatment for inmates is the biggest expense the jail has. 

"I know the agreement was 46% instead of 28%, so Huntsville Hospital is really working with us on this," Sheriff Kevin Turner said.

The sheriff's office was paying varying rates for their inmates to get treated, and it was hurting their checkbook. But on Wednesday, the county commission approved a deal Chairman Dale Strong says was a long time coming.

The sheriff's office will pay a fixed rate of $2,500 dollars for each inmate in the hospital, per day. The maximum they would pay is $100,000 dollars for that inmate. The deal also says the sheriff's office must pay 28% of any additional charges if they hit that $100,000 maximum. Sheriff turner says having a clear price guideline will ultimately save them money.

"People have heard about the high cost in jail over all the years, and this is part of it. The medical expenses we pay out each year is a very large amount," Turner said.

Since 2016, the Madison County Sheriff's Office has gone over their $3 million dollar budget for inmate medical expenses.

In 2016, they were $200,000 over the budget. In 2017, that number doubled to $400,000. Just last year, they were $1.5 million dollars over. 

A woman who tells WAAY31 she spent 5 hours in the Madison County Jail. She didn't want her face or name on camera but said saving tax dollars isn't the important thing with this new agreement.

"I mean you got to think how much money do we spend everyday? So the money is not the problem, it's helping save lives," she said.

Sheriff Turner says this deal is part of their commitment to giving the best treatment to their inmates.

"A lot of people don't know that when a person is arrested, and they get put in jail, It's on us to pay the medical if something happens to them inside the facility," Turner said. 

Here is the official statement from Huntsville Hospital on the agreement:

“We’ve been working closely with Chairman Dale Strong and the Madison County Commission for several years on the county’s healthcare needs. They approached Huntsville Hospital about contracting directly for the hospital care of jail inmates. By doing so, the county will eliminate its use of an outside middle man for the inmates’ hospital services. Any resulting cost savings will benefit Madison County. This new agreement is a great example of how Madison County and Huntsville Hospital are working together for the benefit of our community.”

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