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Inmates To Begin Signing Up For Medicaid Sept. 15
Updated September 9, 2015 8:06 AM
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(BEDFORD) - House Bill 1269 will allow the county to save money on medical expenses for inmates by allowing them to sign up for Medicaid.

House Bill 1269 will go into effect on September 15. It requires the Department of Corrections or a health navigator -- an inmate's authorized representative -- to apply for Medicaid for inmates who are potentially eligible for it or the new Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP 2.0) and who run up medical care expenses that are not otherwise reimbursable.

The law would also apply to inmates in county jails, including Lawrence County's, but no final contract has been sent to the county.

"This is state mandated," says County Attorney Dave Smith. "Unlike others, the coverage is not retroactive for inmates. Coverage begins when the inmate is signed up and then will follow them when they reenter society."

The law mandates that the county jail or DOC, or a health navigator, assist a committed offender in applying for Medicaid (HIP 2.0) and securing treatment upon discharge from either system.

HIP 2.0 is basically Indiana's Medicaid. People qualify for it based on their income, not their disability.

Sheriff Branham says uninsured inmates would sign up for the Affordable Care Act during their 14-day medical evaluation, which each inmate is required to complete.

"Both hospitals have navigators and are willing to help," Sheriff Branham says. "There are also navigators at Center Stone and WIC."

One problem jailers will face is that Medicaid wants to be notified 45 days before an inmate is released.

"That will be difficult, because now officials are notified sometimes only hours before an inmate is to be released," Sheriff Branham says. "Many times inmates are taken for sentencing, and they will be given time served and are released. That is something we will have to work out with the courts."

Sheriff Branham says the law will save taxpayers money.

In other business:

Sheriff Branham reported there were 130 inmates in the county jail Tuesday morning. Of those 37 were females, with 93 males and 4 Department of Correction holds.

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Sheriff Branham is also receiving bids for repairs to the front ramp to the department, paint bids to paint some areas in the inside and outside of the jail, and bids to make repairs to the recreation area.

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Branham praised his staff for working short handed.

"We have been down three merit officers all year," Branham added. "We are also down three officers in the jail, because of long-term medical issues. That is a 10 percent reduction in both areas."

Branham praised both jailers and officers for pulling extra hours and going above the call of duty.

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The Commissioners approved the only bid the county received for salt - from Morton Salt.

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Highway Superintendent David Holmes reported Bridge 89 on Guthrie Road over Salt Creek is open. Crews are continuing work on Bridge 82 on Judah Logan Road over Salt Creek. The weight limits on Bridge 66 on Tunnelton Road have been lifted after an inspection by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

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Nedra Brock Fleetwood, of the Lawrence County Probation Department, requested permission to apply for a $172,246 grant. This is a joint effort with Lawrence County Community Corrections. The total amount of the grant is $296.842.

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Don Mains of the First Christian Church requested permission to use the road to the rear of the County Complex in emergency situations with SandPit Road floods. The church owns the church camp on Sandpit Road and is concerned with flooding issues when there are campers at the campgrounds.

When there is excessive rain, the road floods and Mains is concerned that an ambulance could not get through the flood waters in an emergency situation.

"We would like to access the road on the west side of the campground to the county complex," Mains requested.

However the commissioners felt that would be a dangerous situation because the Lawrence County Police Department shooting range is located there.

Mains will meet with Holmes to see if a solution can be found to help with the flooding issue.

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Valerie Luchauer of Emergency Management says her office is preparing to host a hazardous material exercise at the Judah junction.

"We have had a lot of accidents in that area," she added.

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Commissioner Bill Spreen gave an update on the courthouse ground improvements. Crews are working on sidewalks and the parking areas this week.

"Work is ahead of schedule thanks to the good weather," he added.

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The commissioners appointed Rex Knight to the Mitchell Library Board.



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