GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Greene County owed over $70,000 to Arkansas Methodist Medical Center for medical care to county inmates.
The county had an ordinance in place saying inmates were responsible for payment of medical care, however this ordinance differed from state law.
According to the state law, each county is responsible for care to inmates, and that includes medical care.
"The Quorum Court is to appropriate the money and establish that money for food and services, so this is in that 'and services' category," County Judge Rusty McMillon said. "When that inmate is locked up that inmate becomes the responsibility of the county and it is the same way if it is an inmate that is bound over to the state then the state becomes the responsible party."
McMillon said the county always offered care and medical attention to the inmates; it was just a matter of who paid.
"It was an educational process, letting the Quorum Court know what the responsibly was on their shoulders to appropriate the money and that ultimately if this ever went to court that case studies and law support that the county is financially responsible even though we may pursue the inmate for payment of that medical expense," McMillon said.
The county court and hospital staff worked together to figure out a solution to the issue.
The amount owed was determined by the Medicare rate and was based over six years starting in 2011.
The total amount was $74,740.14.
McMillon said the county is going to pay AMMC back in full this week.
"The check is being cut this week and it is my understanding a representative from the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center will get that check on Friday," McMillon said.
The county was able to pay the money in full because of some budgeted and reserve funds.
"There is a certain amount of money budgeted for medical expenses. This is going to go way above what that was, but thankfully we have some money in reserve and we can pay that in full," McMillon said. "Then as we move forward we will keep that monthly bill in check and pay that in full."
Wednesday McMillon met with some medical companies that specialize in providing medical care to inmates.
McMillon said several counties in Northeast Arkansas use some of these companies and many say it has been very beneficial to the county and the inmate care.
This is something the court may look at considering in the future when funds are available.
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