MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - When a Madison County inmate is sick or injured, it's taxpayer dollars that are responsible to fund their healthcare. Madison County has gone over budget for inmate care significantly for the past three years. Wednesday, the Madison County Commission and Huntsville Hospital entered an agreement regarding inmate care that is expected to save taxpayers money.
Captain Chad Brooks says the Metro Jail's budget for medical expenses in 2018 was a $3.05 million. In 2018, the jail spent $4.5 million to care for inmates. The Madison County Commission noticed the numbers trending up and say they wanted to be good stewards of county funds.
Madison County Sheriff Kevin says many people don't realize that medical expenses for the incarcerated are paid with taxpayer dollars.
"The inmates, yes they have committed crimes and they are in jail but they are still human beings and we have to take care of them while they are there," says Sheriff Kevin Turner.
The new agreement between Madison County and Huntsville Hospital provides a way to standardize rates and help the county know what to expect for costs.
Captain Chad Brooks says the jail been given a discounted hospital rate for years, but the percentages paid have varied. The highest percent the jail has had to pay for inmate care in recent years was 46%. The percentage of the new agreement is 28%.
Under the new agreement, the flat rate for medical care is $2,500 per inmate each day until total services reach $100,000.
"We pay a $2,500 per diem each day for each inmate that is inside our facility up to $100,000. Then if we have to take it down to medical care they charge us 28% of that cost, which is a great savings for the people of Madison County and the City of Huntsville," says Sheriff Turner.
Turner says all parties involved have stepped up to make this agreement happen.
"We're all working in a team effort to try to make sure we save as much money as we can for the people of the county," says Sheriff Turner.
WHNT News 19 reached out to Huntsville Hospital for comment on this new agreement. The hospital's statement is as follows:
"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."