Georgia County Government - Winter 2015 - (Page 36)

sPecIAl Focus: HeAltH & HuMAn servIces Counties and inmate mediCal assistanCe By Ben Pittarelli, Health and Insurance Marketing Director ACCG Insurance Programs THE FAILURE TO provide prisoners with access to necessary health care too often results in tragedy. It also violates the U.S. Constitution. In 1976, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Estelle v. Gamble that ignoring a prisoner's serious medical needs can amount to cruel and unusual punishment, noting that "[a]n inmate must rely on prison authorities to treat his medical needs; if the authorities fail to do so, those needs will not be met. In the worst cases, such a failure may actually produce physical torture or a lingering death[.] ... In less serious cases, denial of medical care may result in pain and suffering which no one suggests would serve any penological purpose." Georgia counties have long dealt with the enormous financial burden of providing inmate medical care. ACCG was able to 36 GeorGia County Government finally give counties a resource to mitigate this expensive exposure with the creation of the ACCG Inmate Medical Savings Program in 2008. ACCG partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia to allow participating counties access to their discounted networks. This was on a fee for service basis so that there was no recurring cost to the counties unless they utilized the service. The program  has averaged a discount of over 64 percent off of the billed charges saving the counties $57 million dollars since its inception. ACCG continued to look for additional ways to help counties save money on inmate medical expenses. During a joint meeting with the leadership at the Georgia Sheriff's Association, the idea was formulated to further cut the growing inmate medical expense by reducing the amount of reimbursement for emergency care of inmates to the Medicaid rate. Legislation was passed in 2011 and resulted in the new O.C.G.A. 42-4-15 which limited the amount providers of emergency medical care could charge when an individual that was in custody was involved. The law further identified that the "follow-up health care" to the originating emergency treatment was covered under this provision as well. Blue Cross Blue Shield's billing system was not able to help with this new and innovative idea so ACCG needed to rewrite the playbook. Experience in administering claims for workers' compensation insurance allowed ACCG to use the expertise of its staff members and contract with an existing vendor to meet the members' needs. The member

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia County Government - Winter 2015

President’s Message
Director’s Desk
Legislative Preview
ACCG District Days
The Impact of Body Worn Cameras
Georgia House Bill 310: What it Really Means to Local Governments and Communities
Mobile Integrated Healthcare/ Community Paramedicine – In your County’s Future?
Q & A With Dr. Jill Mabley, Medical Director of Cherokee County Fire & EMS
Three Technologies Improve Efficiencies in Georgia County Jails and Courts
Counties and Inmate Medical Assistance
Dealing with the Mentally Ill in Jails
News & Notes
Index of Advertisers

Georgia County Government - Winter 2015