Fayette jail inmate healthcare cost rises to $1 million a year


Everybody knows that healthcare costs continue to rise. But what about those costs when a person is in jail? Those costs also continue to increase, with federal law requiring that jails, funded by taxpayers, be responsible for providing treatment.

Providing healthcare services for people who are incarcerated is a requirement of federal law, said Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb.

In Fayette, the jail housed an average of 246 inmates in FY 2014 compared to 296 inmates in FY 2017, according to county records.

Inmate medical costs at the Fayette County Jail for the past five years showed annual totals amounting to:

• FY 2013 – $877,808

• FY 2014 – $849,915

• FY 2015 – $874,890

• FY 2016 – $934,234

• FY 2017 – $1,072,819

Jails, like the one in Fayette County, are responsible for providing medical treatment for inmates. Examples of the care required by federal law to be provided include surgery, medications, dental and nursing care, dialysis and pregnancy care, Babb said.

Additionally, the jail is responsible for various types of specialty care, which have seen significant cost increases in the past few years.

County records indicate that the total cost of specialty care, rendered by both the contracted medical services company and by hospital and other healthcare providers in FY 2014 was $98,644. Those costs continued to increase and, by FY 2017 had risen to $299,669.

The jail does get a break for medical services provided. The jail also contracts with a medical services company that provides nursing staff and helps negotiate with healthcare providers to get bills lowered.

Everyone know that healthcare costs nationwide continue to increase. Those increases also apply to jails, for which taxpayers are responsible. Failure to provide those services to inmates is a violation of the law.