Commissioners approve contract for medical services for inmates

photo by Vickie Carpenter

Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer

When the Macon County Detention Center takes custody of an inmate, they become responsible for their medical care. From medication distribution, doctor visits and even caring for chronic medical conditions, medical treatment is carried out by the detention center. 

Last week, the Macon County Board of Commissioners approved a formal contract for medical services at the detention center. 

“This is a new formal contract with our Physician and his medical team to coincide with our updated medical and detention policies,” said Sheriff Robert Holland. “There is no new money or any new additional cost in this contract. 

The contract for Dr. Jason Creel and his staff is $60,000 per year. Sheriff Holland’s budget last year included $425,000 for medical services, which covers the cost of medical supplies and medical bills for inmates. For the fiscal year that ran July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 the sheriff’s department spent $330,413 of the annual medical budget. 

Macon County Detention Center Lieutenant Derek Jones said that the formal contract will be beneficial for both the county and inmates. 

“Dr Jason Creel has been an asset to the community and our staff,” said Jones. “To extend his contract and add a nurse under his care is a tremendous step in a positive direction by adding additional services at no additional costs. This saves a lot of time and money in the fact that many services are now available in house rather than traveling outside for such services.”

With medical costs at the jail increasing year after year, Sheriff Robbie Holland sought ways to reduce cost which resulted in partnering with Correction Risk Services (CRS) to review each medical bill coming into the jail and challenge those that they find to be erroneous or duplicated. CRS also negotiates prices with medical facilities on behalf of the detention center.

Holland said that there have been cases where the detention center may have received a bill for $80,000 for chronic care for conditions such as cancer treatments for inmates and CRS has negotiated on behalf of the county to have those bills lowered by more than half. 

“Since we implemented the contract with CRS, we have been able to save the county thousands of dollars,” said Sheriff Holland. “It has been extremely beneficial in reviewing each bill and everything on a case by case basis to ensure everything is accurate and fair.” 

Holland said that according to data, Macon County had a net savings of $442,800 since utilizing the services of CRS. They have saved the county $112,341.11 based on claims processed in 2016, another $107,353.88 in 2017 and $223,105.56 in 2018.