Carbon County has saved about $325,752 on medical care for inmates through changes in state law and a cost-cutting program sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.

Act 22 of 2011 and the Prison Inmate Medical Cost Containment program saved the county about $105,000 and $220,752, respectively, Carole J. Rusnak, Senior Nurse Consultant at Cost Management Plus, Inc. told the county Prison Board at a public meeting Wednesday.

Cost Management Plus administers the PIMCC program. The county signed onto the program in November 2011. Act 22, signed into law in July 2011, caps inpatient hospital care for most county and state inmates at Medicaid rates, and outpatient care at Medicare rates. Under the law, county prison inmates who qualify for Medicaid while incarcerated can use that coverage for hospital stays or other off-site medical treatment.

In years prior the PIMCC program and Act 22, inmate medical costs had soared.

In other money-saving matters Wednesday, prison maintenance supervisor Charles Neff reported that eight of 18 prison-made bunk beds have now been made.

The prison needed more beds, and Warden Joseph G. Gross said last month that he had estimated the cost at $700 per bed, or $11,000 for 18 beds. But after doing some research, Gross learned that the prison could buy the raw materials from the Kovatch Corp. for $3,400. An inmate who is a trained welder offered to fabricate the beds, under the watchful eye of corrections officers.

Kovatch provided the cutting, pressing and other prep work free of charge.

The beds are needed. Gross told the Prison Board that the average inmate population in April was 193 for the 187-bed facility. However, due to release of more inmates to the state system and other reasons, the number had dropped to 177 as of Wednesday.