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Red tape is delaying help in state program dealing with inmate medical bills

Published September 23. 2011 05:01PM

Issues with a state act are delaying the Carbon County Correctional Facility from saving money on some inmate medical bills.

During the monthly meeting of the county prison board, Warden Joseph Gross updated the board on the status of Act 22, which provides help with payments of inmate medical health care bills for eligible inmates by using Medicaid and Medicare rates for services provided.

Gross noted that shortly after the county submitted all the paperwork for the program, there was some sort of "disparity between the organization and the state and how they were coming across with Act 22."

He pointed out that state residents were being covered but not county residents.

The prison was contacted by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, which informed them that they needed to fill out a COMPASS form. Gross said that the form was completed online and the prison is now waiting on confirmation that they are in this program.

"Hopefully this will get up and running shortly," he said. "There has been a lot of red tape to go through and a lot of hoops to jump through. We're doing the best we can with that."

Randall Smith, county administrator, said that he received information earlier this week that brought up more issues that needed to be addressed in the act, and noted that it seemed that "there would be more red tape to follow."

Act 22, according to the Pennsylvania Prison Wardens Association website, states that "Under the new law payment for care for inmates of state and county correctional facilities would be limited to Medicaid rates for inpatient care and Medicare fee-for-service rates for outpatient care."

At last month's meeting, Robert Crampsie, county controller, reported that under the new act, all county inmates who are eligible for Medicaid when the are incarcerated may still be covered by Medicaid when they require hospital stays or medical treatment. This would cut down on the bills the county must pay for medical treatment of inmates who require off-site care.

In past years, the county incurred medical bills in excess of $100,000 for inmates who required hospital stays, ambulance services, or Medevac.

In other matters, representatives from JusticeWorks, a company that works with the juvenile court system to help troubled youths and their families through various programs learn from their mistakes and build stronger, healthier relationships, gave a short presentation on a new plan to modify their current programs to fit the adult inmate population. They asked if Carbon County would be interested in contracting their services, which would help inmates reestablish themselves in society after release, as well as work with them to change their way of life.

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