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“THIS COULD SIGNIFICANTLY DECREASE OUR BUDGET”
Frio County officials have begun talks with Frio Regional Hospital administration on developing a process to provide medical care for inmates through indigent care funding.
Correctional facilities are required to provide medical health services to incarcerated individuals. Health care, at the Frio jail facility, is contracted through Ready Care.
According to records filed at the sheriff’s office, the third-party company provides on-site primary care costing the department $280,000 this fiscal year.
The incarcerated population has the potential to have significant physical and mental health needs. In county jails, according to statistics, 64% of inmates have a mental health disorder.
Indigent care allows the commissioners’ court to provide for the support of paupers, residents of their county, who are unable to support themselves.
According to Frio Regional Hospital CEO John Hughson, inmates that are current residents of the county can apply for indigent health care coverage.
“Just like anyone in the county, they are eligible for up to fifteen thousand dollars each year,” Hughson said during the Friday, August 25 meeting.
Hughson noted there is a process that must be followed that would determine if the individual is eligible to receive the funding which includes proof of residency, income and assets.
Frio County Chief Deputy Peter Salinas quizzed the hospital CEO on responsibility roles for the application process.
Hughson volunteers his staff to come down to the jail and take applications from inmates, however, he encouraged the development of an application process.
“We can make the application part of the booking process,” Salinas said.
“Depending on [inmate intake] volume, we are certainly willing to work with you and come up with the most efficient process,” Hughson said.
Frio County Attorney Joseph Sindon suggested the sheriff’s office hold the paperwork until the inmate had a medical issue that required attention.
“Not necessarily,” Hughson said. “There is some time in there to verify information. However, a good question, because if someone does not have a medical issue there is no sense in wasting the sheriff’s time or our time if they do not have a medical issue.”
Salinas said if inmates are deemed indigent, their medical costs would fall completely on the hospital district, alleviating thousands from the budget.
“This could significantly decrease our budget,” Salinas said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “The indigent care coverage would cover medical care and prescription costs.”