Lee County Commission Considers Inmate Medical Program

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BY HANNAH LESTER

HLESTER@OPELIKAOBSERVER.COM

LEE COUNTY —

The Lee County Commission heard from President of Millennium Risk Managers, Terry Young, during its Monday night meeting about saving the county money on inmate medical expenses.

Young presented information on how best to manage off-site medical costs.

“The MRM is a claims processor,” he said. “… We’ve been here in Alabama about 30 years … we administer the on-the-job injuries for all of the occupational injuries for 99% of all the municipalities in Alabama.

“… The reason I’m here and what kind of got this whole program started, about three years ago, Chilton County reached out to us [Former Mayor Billy Joe Driver]. Mayor Driver said, ‘I need you to come talk to my sheriff,’ so [we] met with the sheriff. He said, ‘My inmate healthcare is killing me. The cost is going through the roof. How do I control it?’”

Young said that most counties hire third-party companies to manage all on-site healthcare for inmates — the on-site infirmary, nurses, doctors and more. This is not what MRM does — it manages financials off-site.

“When you have an inmate or someone that’s incarcerated or someone that’s being arrested, and maybe there’s an issue and they ultimately have to go to the hospital or follow-up treatment to doctors, that off-site healthcare is where a lot of money is spent,” Young said. “Basically, we have contracts at MRM with 13,000 medical providers in the state of Alabama.”

However, Lee County’s East Alabama Medical Center is not contracted with MRM.

“We don’t have a contract with them, not because we haven’t tried but we just don’t have a contract with them,” he said.

The contracts and management include the treatment of a doctor, prescriptions from a pharmacy, etc.

“We are the largest processor and medical payer in the state next to Blue Cross,” Young said. “So, in simple theory, our contract and our discounts are extremely low, so when those bills come to us, we scrub them, we make sure that what’s being paid by the county for those inmates is actually [what] should have been paid.

“We don’t get into medical diagnosis, we don’t determine treatment, we just make sure the treatment that was provided was what should have been provided, and we audit and scrub those bills.”

Young said that the average payment per county is 15% of the savings go back to MRM. However, different counties choose different payment methods, such as a lower percentage or a flat fee upfront.

Young’s conversation with the commission is the result of District 1 Commissioner Doug Cannon reaching out for more information. Young subsequently spoke with County Administrator Holly Leverette and Sheriff Jay Jones.

“My objective right now is to go through [Lee County’s] bills, reprice them, which I told the sheriff I’d have done by Wednesday of this week and present them back to Holly and the sheriff,” Young said.

The commission did not vote for or against entering into a contract with MRM Monday night.

“I hope this is something we’ll hear more about,” said District 4 Commissioner Robert Ham. “Doug, thank you for getting in touch with Terry.”

OTHER BUSINESS:

– Martecia Rogers was recognized for two certifications.

– The commission approved the final plat approval for the Creecy Subdivision.

– The commission voted to approve Probate Judge and Commission Chair Bill English to serve as the representative for the Investing in Alabama County’s Operations Council.

– The commission voted to reject a bid for body cameras for the sheriff’s office on the basis of rebidding.

– The commission approved educational reimbursements for the sheriff’s department.

– The commission voted to approve use of the county attorney for the coroner.

– The commission discussed the six-month evaluation of Leverette.

– The commission approved the RSA retiree resolution.

– The commission approved American Rescue Plan Act replacement funds of $105,000 for use of parking lot lighting at Beulah and Beauregard parks

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