Carbon County is already seeing significant savings on its inmate medical bills, thanks to Act 22.

During the county prison board meeting, Robert Crampsie, county controller, updated the board on a recent meeting between county officials and a representative from the Pennsylvania Inmate Medical Cost Containment (PIMCC) board. The meeting was to discuss Act 22, which provides help with payments of inmate medical health care bills for eligible inmates by using Medicaid or Medicare rates for services provided.

Crampsie said that under the new legislation, PIMCC has been designated as the administrator for the Act 22 accounts. It is the county's responsibility to set up an escrow account with PIMCC and pay a designated amount to the organization, which will then use those funds to pay county inmate medical bills.

Crampsie said the amount due to PIMCC by Oct. 31 for the services is $18,363.07; which was determined using the medical costs from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. He noted that the payments would be drawn from federal funds, as well as the $18,000 the county submits.

Crampsie and Randall Smith, county administrator, both praised the program and PIMCC, saying that even if the inmate is not hospitalized for a chronic condition, the county will still save money on medical bills.

"If an inmate winds up in the hospital and it is a chronic condition, we'll be responsible for only 50 percent of the Medicaid billing," Smith explained, adding "but if the person is not in for a chronic condition, we'll still be subject to savings because we'll be paying only the Medicaid billing portion, which is substantially less than the current agreement we have. It's a winning situation."

Crampsie asked Mary Fairchild, administrative assistant, to illustrate the savings the county prison is already seeing by reading some of the bills they recently paid for inmate medical services.

Fairchild provided a few outpatient examples. One inmate bill would have been $2,000 if charged at the current rates; but under Act 22, the county paid $116; another bill would have cost $4,000 but ended up being $112.

For an inpatient bill, which would have been over $7,300, Fairchild reported that the county saved thousands through Act 22 and paid only $343.

She said that she estimates that the prison has saved over $10,000 since the act went into effect on July 1.

The board then recommended the county commissioners sign a Memorandum of Understanding with PIMCC for the billing services.

In a related matter, Crampsie also addressed a pitch that he received from PIMCC for full-time consulting services.

Right now, the company provides the prison with pharmacy consultant services at a charge of $3,200 a year.

Crampsie said the full-time program would cover all services for inmate medical needs.

"They have an expertise that we just don't have here at the prison," Crampsie said, adding that PIMCC would review all medical bills to make sure billing codes are correct; as well as make sure bills are paid. "I look at it as something that would be to our advantage."

He urged the board to consider going with the full-time program through PIMCC.

The board then voted to recommend the upgrade to the county commissioners.